A TEENAGE girl has told how her father gave her to Boko Haram extremists and that she was arrested after refusing to explode a suicide bomb in Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city in the north.
Nigeria has suffered numerous suicide bombings in recent months carried out by girls and young women. That has raised fears that the insurgents are using kidnapped girls.
Zahra’u Babangida, 13, told a news conference she saw many people being buried alive at the Boko Haram camp where her father took her in Bauchi state, east of Kano.
She said her captors had asked if she wanted to go to paradise and, when she said yes, explained she would have to be a suicide bomber.
“When I was told I would have to die to enter paradise, that I would have to explode a bomb and die, I said I cannot do it,” she said.
When they threatened to kill her, she allowed them to strap her into a vest primed with explosives, saying: “I was afraid to be buried alive.”
Two other girls detonated their bombs at Kano’s textile market on 10 December. Police said the attack killed four people and wounded seven, including the girl.
Police superintendent Adenrele Shinaba said the girl had been arrested in a hospital with a leg wound.
A taxi driver had taken her there and she said she had left her suicide vest on the seat, so he alerted police.
Mr Shinaba said she would remain in custody while investigations continued. He said they had been unable to find her father, who the girl said belonged to Boko Haram.
Last month, more than 100 people died in a gun and bomb attack during prayers at one of the biggest mosques in Kano.
The West African nation’s home-grown Boko Haram group attracted international condemnation when its fighters kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from a boarding school in the northeast town od Chibok in April. Dozens escaped but 219 remain missing.
Thousands of people have been killed and 1.6 million driven from their homes in the five-year-old uprising aimed at creating an Islamic state in Nigeria, a nation of 160 million people divided between mainly Muslims in the north and Christians in the south.
All vehicle movements in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno state has been banned until Sunday morning to prevent attacks by the group, the army said.
Boko Haram militants have targeted churches during previous festive seasons.
The group bombed the St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla near the capital, Abuja, on Christmas Day 2011, killing at least 43 people.
On Christmas Eve 2010, at least 32 people were killed in bomb blasts targeting churches in central Plateau state, which straddles Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north and the Christian south.
Boko Haram is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.
Its followers are said to be influenced by the Koranic phrase which says: “Anyone who is not governed by what Allah has revealed is among the transgressors”.
The group promotes a version of Islam which makes it “haram”, or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with western society.
This includes voting in elections, wearing shirts and trousers, or receiving a secular education.