The scene was horrific. While the residents of the village of Nguetchewe in Cameroon’s far north region slept, Boko Haram militants attacked their community at approximately 11 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1—sending in two suicide bombers, one of whom was a young girl.
By the time she and another bomber had detonated the explosives they wore, more than 28 lives were lost, including a reported seven young Christians between the ages of three and 18. The attack continued into the next morning, forcing some 1,500 people to flee to the nearby town of Mozogo for safety.
Reportedly, the Nguetchewe Catholic Mission was Boko Haram’s target. In a phone call, a church leader in Nguetchewe told Open Doors: “I was at home when they came. We heard gunshots and then shouts from the vigilante committee alerting us. So we fled … When they got in, they first fired shots (randomly), and then people started running.”
Some of the women and children gathered to hide in the area where millet is beaten, the church leader said. That’s when the young girl came into the area saying her stomach hurt. The group let her in, completely unaware she was carrying a bomb.
“They were duped,” the church leader said. “She detonated the bomb and killed many people. It seems another suicide bomber targeted another group of people.”
At least seven of the victims were Christians. “We got reports that one other member who was injured and was taken to hospital has passed away, but I am still to confirm,” the church leader said. “For now, it’s clear that all in this group of victims were between the ages of 3 and 18, and included both boys and girls.”
Further details about the bombers, including their origins, are unknown though reports in recent years indicate that Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands of children. Last year, the UN recently stated that since 2009, an estimated 8,000 children have been abducted by Boko Haram. And according to a UNICEF report, at least 117 of these children have been used as suicide bombers since 2017—and more than 80 percent of them are girls.
This story was originally published by Open Doors USA and is republished here with permission.