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Special Reports

The Islamic State West Africa continues to utilize women as suicide bombers

Boko Haram, which now calls itself the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWA), continues to utilize women as suicide bombers in northeastern Nigeria and in neighboring Cameroon. The jihadist group killed three people today in a suicide attack in the town of Mora in northern Cameroon.

According to Reuters, a police officer and two civilians were killed after two female suicide bombers detonated themselves in a car close to the town’s stadium. Early reports have indicated that the police officer stopped the car for a routine check before being killed in the blast. The death toll is expected to rise as authorities begin searching the scene and gather more information. The attack also occurred just hours after coordinated improvised explosive device attacks in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri killed over 50.

The attack in Cameroon is just the latest to have been perpetrated by ISWA this year. Earlier this month, the jihadist group used two teenage girls to attack a local market and a nearby army camp in Kerewa killing 30. In July, a 12-year old girl killed 20 people when she detonated in a crowded bar in Maroua, the capital of Cameroon’s Far North Region. A week before that attack, two teenage girls blew themselves up in a market in Maroua, killing at least 20. A few days before, two other teenage girls detonated in the border town of Fotokol, killing 10 civilians and a Chadian soldier. In response to these attacks, the regional government banned women from wearing burkas, which the ISWA often uses to mask its suicide bombers.

The tactic of using women as suicide bombers has been a common occurrence in Nigeria over the past two years. In one of the deadliest attacks, on Nov. 27, 2014, two women killed 78 people and wounded scores more at a market in Maiduguri. The group’s first known instance of using a female suicide bomber was on June 8, 2014, when a middle-aged woman on a motorcycle detonated near a Nigerian military barracks in Gombe, killing one policeman.

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