The Islamist militant group Boko Haram has gained worldwide notoriety this year for intensifying carnage in Nigeria that has claimed more than 10,000 lives in just 12 months — a fatality rate that is comparable to the Islamic State, or ISIS, insurgency in Iraq, according to NBC News.
And Boko Haram looks to be ramping up its attacks. The terrorist group has reportedly deployed over 50 female suicide bombers in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, to kill 100,000 people before the end of the year, VICE News reports.
A suspected suicide bomber confessed the lethal plot to a vigilante group during her arrest outside the University of Maiduguri. A second female suicide bomber was arrested that same day, only a few miles away, near the Maiduguri post office, VICE News reported.
Boko Haram began enlisting women as suicide bombers in April, Jacob Zenn of the Jamestown Foundation told VICE on Friday. Since then, there have been 15 attacks or attempts by Boko Haram female suicide bombers, who have had an increasingly salient role in the violent insurgent movement, according to Zenn, an expert on extremism and African affairs at the conflict research firm.
Recruiting women as suicide bombers is an effective tactic that Boko Haram most likely learned from terrorist groups abroad, Zenn said. “Women traditionally are not expected to be in the role of a suicide bomber in Nigeria,” Zenn told VICE News. “They are less likely to be suspected, inspected, or detected.”
The Islamic State has recruited women into the Sunni millitant group as well. A wanted British woman known as the "White Widow" joined ISIS this year and is reportedly training an all-female brigade of suicide bombers for the group, according to the New York Post. The group has also established an all-female squad in the Syrian city of Raqqa that is charged with policing other women under ISIS's interpretation of Sharia law.
"Jihad is not a man-only duty. Women must do their part as well," Abu Ahmad, a spokesman for the Islamic State in Syria told Syria Deeply in July. Ahmad said the goal of the all-female squad is to "raise awareness among women, and arrest and punish women who do not follow the religion correctly."
Boko Haram militants have terrorized Nigeria since the group launched an insurgency there in 2009, with a goal to create an Islamic state in northeastern Nigeria. They have declared loyalty to the Islamic State group, which aims to establish an Islamic state cross Sunni areas of Iraq and in Syria, according to the BBC News.
“The violence has become so bad that people don’t have lives anymore,” Nigerian Sen. Ahmed Zanna of Borno told NBC News on Saturday. “They cannot go to their farms, they cannot go to their businesses. It dominates people’s lives every single day. They have no help form the army, the people who are supposed to protect them. They are scared, and that fear is real.”
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged to defeat Boko Haram and the government’s military claims to be making strides, but human rights groups say the Nigerian military have only added to the violence with its heavy-handed response. Nigerian forces have failed to curb the violence and protect civilians from the terrorist group that has killed thousands of civilians this year, according to an October report by Human Rights Watch.