A female suicide bomber, claiming to be one of the 219 schoolgirls kidnapped almost two years ago in Chibok,Borno State, was yesterday intercepted in northern Cameroon moments before she could blow herself up.
She was one of two suspects stopped by local self-defence forces in the village of Limani, in an area of northern Cameroon that has been the target of frequent suicide bombings in recent months.
The two carried explosive devices on their bodies.
They were then handed over to Cameroonian soldiers belonging to a multi-national force set up to take on Boko Haram.
Overnight, soldiers shot dead two other suspected female suicide bombers near Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, averting what could have been another tragedy in the troubled city.
In a high-profile attack that sparked a global outcry, Boko Haram militants raided Government Girls Secondary School,Chibok in April 2014, while the girls were taking examinations.
They loaded 270 of them onto trucks, though around 50 escaped shortly afterwards.
“One of them indeed declared that she is one of the Chibok hostages. She is around 15. We are now verifying because on the Nigerian side, they have the names and photos of these girls,” said local government administrator Raymond Roksdo.
Two military sources, who asked not to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the press, also confirmed that the girl had claimed to have been one of the Chibok abductees.
“We need a few days to be able to confirm this information. We have to debrief all the men who were present and interrogate the two girls before we can say anything,” one of the military sources said.
There had been fears that Boko Haram might have been using the girls as human shield in its insurgency or as suicide bombers.
President Muhammadu Buhari said recently on Al-Jazeera that government had no reliable intelligence on the whereabouts of the girls.
A few weeks after the abduction, Boko Haram leader Ahmed Shekau put the girls on show in one of his video messages and said he had converted them to Islam and would marry them off.
President Buhari ordered a new investigation into the kidnappings in January and joint operations between Nigeria and neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon have succeeded in driving Boko Haram from many of its strongholds in Nigeria last year.
However, as an 8,700-strong regional task force seeks to stamp them out once and for all, the Islamists have stepped up cross-border attacks and suicide bombings, many of them carried out by young girls.
The Nigerian Army yesterday announced in Abuja that vigilant troops of 7 Division Garrison based in Maiduguri and members of Civilian JTF averted a suicide attack on Borno State after intercepting two suicide bombers.
Colonel Sani Usman, acting Director, Army Public Relations, said in a statement that troops intercepted the suspects at about 1:20am almost 100 metres south of Umurari village, on the outskirts of Maiduguri yesterday.
According to him, one of the suicide bombers on sighting own troops detonated her explosive device, killing herself instantly, while the second bomber in an attempt to escape was gunned down by one of the Garrison snipers.
He added that following the incident, combined team of Police and Army’s Explosive Ordinance Device team safely detonated the unexploded Improvised Explosive Devices strapped on the gunned down suicide bomber.
The Army Public Relations chief said there was no casualty beyond the two suicide bombers, while troops and members of Civilian JTF deployed in the village are now combing the general area to forestall further breach of security.
He added that the area is calm and law-abiding citizens are going about their normal activities without fear.