Three suicide bombers, believed to be from Abubakr Shekau’s Boko Haram faction in neighboring Nigeria, killed at least six people in near simultaneous bombings in Diffa, Niger, on Monday.
According to Reuters, the bombers included two girls and one man. It is unknown how old the girls were, however, the Shekau faction has used girls as young as nine in its terrorist attacks. The group targeted the mosque and a nearby Quranic school, according to locals. At least six people were killed, while over 30 were wounded in the blasts.
Monday’s suicide bombing was the first to involve females since last June’s attack on a refugee camp in Kabelawa, Niger. That assault, which targeted civilians who fled the violence in northern Nigeria, left two dead and 11 others wounded. At least one other suicide bombing in Niger has involved women, the Feb. 2015 attack also in Diffa.
While suicide bombings are relatively rare in Niger, the Islamic State West Africa and Boko Haram – which is a faction from ISWA – have periodically launched military assaults on the Nigerien military.
Since June 2014, Shekau’s Boko Haram has used at least 368 women and girls as suicide bombers, according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal. Most were successful, however, many were either arrested or killed before detonation (which are counted in the data).
While neither Shekau’s faction nor ISWA controls the territory it once did as a unified force, both factions continue to remain a threat to both Nigerian security forces and the civilian populations in northern Nigeria. Additionally, the two jihadist group remain a potent threat to neighboring countries such as Chad or Niger.