Tragedy was averted in Borno State on Saturday night as a 10-year-old suspected Boko Haram suicide bomber on New Year’s Eve mission to blow up some Maiduguri residents, was killed. The bomb went off before she got to her target.
One other person was seriously injured, witnesses and aid workers said.
The attack came a week after President Muhammadu Buhari said the jihadist group had been routed from Sambisa forest, its last stronghold in the state.
According to the AFP, the girl had approached a crowd buying noodles from a food vendor in the Customs area of the state capital around 9:30 pm on Saturday and detonated her explosives, witnesses said.
Although no one has claimed responsibility, the attack bore the hallmark of Boko Haram Islamists who are notorious for using suicide bombers, mostly women and young girls, in attacking civilian targets.
“The girl walked towards the crowd but she blew up before she could reach her target.
“She died instantly, while one person was seriously hurt after he was hit by shrapnel,” said witness Grema Usman who lives in the area.
“The girl was clearly not more than 10 and this could have made her too nervous, making her to detonate the explosives prematurely,” an aid worker involved in the evacuation of the body said.
Borno State police spokesman Victor Isuku said a second female suicide bomber was caught and lynched by an angry mob and her bomb safely detonated by security forces.
In December two girls aged between seven and eight detonated explosives in suicide attacks on market in the city, injuring 19 people.
Authorities blamed the attack on Boko Haram, whose seven-year insurgency has killed 20,000 people and displaced 2.6 million others. The conflict has spilled into Nigeria’s northern neighbours.