UNICEF has reported a four-fold increase in use of children as "human bombs" by the radical Boko Haram group in northeastern Nigeria already this year compared to all of 2016. The United Nations body said that the terror group has already used 83 children as human bombs this year, most of them girls.
"At least 83 children have been deployed as "human bombs" by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria's northeastern region between January and August, a figure four times higher than it was for all of 2016," the UNICEF said in a statement on Tuesday.
UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said she has no explanation for the increase to 83 such "human bomb" children, two-thirds of them girls, compared to 19 total children last year.
She said Boko Haram does not always claim responsibility for such attacks typically against civilian targets, but no other groups are known to use the tactic.
A side-effect is that "many children who have managed to get away from captivity face rejection when they try to reintegrate into their communities."
"The use of children in such attacks has had a further impact of creating suspicion and fear of children who have been released, rescued or escaped from Boko Haram. As a result, many children who have managed to get away from captivity face rejection when they try to reintegrate into their communities, compounding their suffering," the statement said.
The United Nations estimates the insurgency has displaced 1.7 million people and left an estimated 20,000 people dead since 2009.
(With AP inputs)