At least four people, including a university professor, have been killed after a radicalized girl detonated her explosive-laden vest at a university campus in Nigeria’s northeastern province of Borno, police say. The explosion occurred at a mosque in the staff quarters area of the University of Maiduguri in the provincial capital Maiduguri at dawn on Monday, when university professors were saying their prayers at the mosque, said Victor Isuku, Borno police spokesman, adding that a child was also killed in the blast.
He further said that the explosion also claimed the life of another child, who was with the bomber, adding that at least 15 other people at the mosque also sustained “various degrees of injuries” and were taken to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. However, the National Emergency Management Agency, whose staff took the wounded to hospital, said 17 people had been injured.
The mosque blast took place minutes after police forces, patrolling the grounds at the back of the university, shot another radicalized girl, who had wrapped herself with explosives, as she tried to enter the campus while ignoring stop commands. “The IED (improvised explosive device) strapped to her body exploded, killing her instantly,” Isuku said, adding that the girl had been 12 years old.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks but they bear the hallmark of the Boko Haram Takfiri terrorist group. In recent months, army troops and civilian fighters in Nigeria have managed to foil many bomb attacks involving terrorists wearing explosive vests before the assailants were able to reach heavily-populated targets and detonate their bombs of their own accord.
Last month, however, two women, with the Boko Haram, killed 57 people and injured 177, including 120 children, after they detonated their explosive vests at a bustling market at Madagali, a town in the neighboring province of Adamawa. On December 24, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power in 2015 with a pledge to eradicate Boko Haram, announced that the army had “crushed” the terror group a day earlier by retaking its last key bastion, deep inside the thick Sambisa Forest in Borno.
The group, however, has resorted to sporadic shooting and bombing attacks in northeast of the African country, spreading panic among the local residents. Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly terror attacks in Nigeria since the beginning of their militancy in 2009, which has so far claimed the lives of at least 20,000 people and made more than 2.7 million displaced.
The United Nations has warned that areas affected by Boko Haram face a humanitarian crisis. Back in February, four nations of the Lake Chad Basin – Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria – launched a campaign, together with a contingent from Benin, to confront the threat from Boko Haram militants in the region.