Boko Haram Using Child Soldiers, Human Shields To Slow Military Onslaught

Boko Haram has devised a means of disturbing Nigeria Military’s ‘Operation No Mercy’ by using women and children as human shields, the military has raised alarm.

Recent reports have suggested that the military, with the support of Israeli and American military advisers, was making gains in the battle to reclaim towns lost to Boko Haram, and were advancing to reclaim Mubi, Adamawa State. The rate at which the insurgents are being hit, however, has made them devise a means to stop or slow down the troops, who would employ a more careful approach because of the human shields and child soldiers now being used by the terrorists.

The terrorists, while recruiting children, rape and kill some of them, who are reluctant to join them, reports Vanguard, citing sources.

“In most cases, children and teenagers are forced to be in the forefront in the battle against the Nigerian troops through ambushing and suicide bombing; and there are established cases of women and children getting involved in terrorist acts like recent bombings in schools,” the source said.

“On several occasions, the Nigerian military has captured small children who were forced to take up arms against the state with some of them behaving abnormally due to indoctrination and inducement through the use of hard drugs.”

The source therefore told Vanguard that the military was “being cautious in abiding by the rules of engagement even when we are aware that the militants recruit children for spying on us and pushing them to engage in hostilities against innocent citizens and the troops.

“Most of the children, especially teenagers were recruited through abduction, kidnapping and enticement with money after which they undergo brainwashing and combat training. Those that are unwilling to cooperate are punished or summarily executed.”

While avoiding the child soldiers, the military has lost men in battle, according to sources.

“We have lost our men in the battle-field while we tried to avoid shooting children and teenagers who are forced to confront us. How do you expect us to arrest a child with a gun? Do we accord such an armed under-age combatant with the status of a child deserving of protection under the rules of engagement?

“It may become inevitable that some collateral damage may be recorded if we get the orders, especially because Boko Haram elements were using civilians as human shields to continue to gain undue advantages in the current battle in the North East.

The source said as it is, the military may be forced to continue its onslaught and not allow the child soldiers and human shields cost it more men in the battle that it has to win.

“However, much as troops are determined to avoid collateral damage, it has become inevitable to be decisive with armed underage combatants and female suicide bombers with the situation degenerating by the day.

“The military will no longer tolerate a situation where insurgents use human shield to gain undue advantage especially now that majority of Nigerians have demanded that a full scale war be declared by government in response to Boko Haram,” the source declared.