Africa

UNICEF: Boko Haram increasingly using children as bombers

  • FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2015 file photo, police officers stand guard following a suicide bomb explosion at a bus station in Kano, Nigeria. Radical Islamic militants from Boko Haram are increasingly forcing children to carry out bombings, with the number of attacks since January already nearly reaching the total for all of last year, according to a report released Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by the U.N. children’s agency. (AP Photo/Sani Maikatanga, File)

    FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2015 file photo, police officers stand guard following a suicide bomb explosion at a bus station in Kano, Nigeria. Radical Islamic militants from Boko Haram are increasingly forcing children to carry out bombings, with the number of attacks since January already nearly reaching the total for all of last year, according to a report released Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by the U.N. children’s agency. (AP Photo/Sani Maikatanga, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - This Dec. 24, 2014 file photo, shows Zahra'u Babangida, a 13 year-old girl arrested with explosives strapped to her body in Kano Nigeria. Radical Islamic militants from Boko Haram are increasingly forcing children to carry out bombings, with the number of attacks since January already nearly reaching the total for all of last year, according to a report released Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by the U.N. children's agency. (AP Photo/File)

    FILE - This Dec. 24, 2014 file photo, shows Zahra'u Babangida, a 13 year-old girl arrested with explosives strapped to her body in Kano Nigeria. Radical Islamic militants from Boko Haram are increasingly forcing children to carry out bombings, with the number of attacks since January already nearly reaching the total for all of last year, according to a report released Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by the U.N. children's agency. (AP Photo/File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this Oct. 23, 2015 file photo, people inspect a damaged mosque following an explosion in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Radical Islamic militants from Boko Haram are increasingly forcing children to carry out bombings, with the number of attacks since January already nearly reaching the total for all of last year, according to a report released Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by the U.N. children's agency. (AP Photo/Jossy Ola, File)

    FILE- In this Oct. 23, 2015 file photo, people inspect a damaged mosque following an explosion in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Radical Islamic militants from Boko Haram are increasingly forcing children to carry out bombings, with the number of attacks since January already nearly reaching the total for all of last year, according to a report released Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by the U.N. children's agency. (AP Photo/Jossy Ola, File)  (The Associated Press)

The U.N. children's agency says Islamic militants from Boko Haram are increasingly forcing children to carry out bombings, with the number of attacks since January already nearly reaching the total for all of last year.

UNICEF says in its report Wednesday that at least 117 attacks have been carried out by youth in the Lake Chad basin region since 2014, with nearly 80 percent of the bombs strapped to girls, who were sometimes drugged before their missions.

Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF's regional director, says the very sight of children near marketplaces and checkpoints is sparking fear. As a result, nearly 1,500 children were detained last year across Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

Poirier says the children are victims, not perpetrators: "Forcing or deceiving them into committing such horrific acts is reprehensible."