Abuja — Women and even girls have been used by Islamic extremists in Nigeria as suicide bombers. Now, the military says it has detained an 11-year-old boy who is currently describing to interrogators how Boko Haram trained him to be a suicide bomber and attack the biggest refugee camp in Nigeria.
The boy is suspect No. 82 on a poster showing photographs of 100 wanted Boko Haram militants, according to army spokesman Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman.
"The child said he was sneaked into the camp as a displaced child to get familiarized with the people and wait for the day he would be prompted to carry (out) his own suicide attack," Usman said in a statement.
He said the boy was arrested Tuesday by troops guarding Dalori refugee camp in Maiduguri.
He told interrogators that three other children who trained with him already have blown themselves up in suicide attacks.
Usman did not respond to an emailed list of questions and was not immediately able to get access to the child to verify the military's account.
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The boy is still being interrogated, in the Hausa language that is all he speaks, at a military camp in Maiduguri on Friday, according to an officer at the camp who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to reporters.
Usman identified the 11-year-old boy as a resident of Bama, a town 72 kilometers northeast of Maiduguri. Boko Haram had seized Bama in September 2014 and a year ago published a video showing gunmen mowing down civilians lying face down in the town, executing them as "infidels."
One video published by Boko Haram shows children training to shoot with assault rifles.
Usman said the 11-year-old has already identified a Boko Haram member among adults in Dalori refugee camp, who has been arrested. Usman said this highlights the need for proper screening of refugees. Dalori is the biggest refugee camp in the northeast, holding some 30,000 people.
The boy is at least the fourth person arrested since the military five weeks ago began distributing a photographic collage of 100 wanted Boko Haram militants. The 11-year-old boy is shown in the bottom right-hand corner of the poster, a cap covering his head, his arms raised in prayer.
No names were attached since most images are screen grabs from videos seized in raids on Boko Haram camps or published on the Internet by the extremists, Usman has said.