Children were used as suicide bombers in a triple attack in Nigeria on Monday, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has said.
Two girls and a boy carried out the bombing outside a video hall in Konduga village in north-eastern Borno State, the United Nations (UN) children’s charity said. Their ages are not yet known.
Officials say at least 30 people were killed and 40 injured in the attack.
The bombing is believed to have been carried out by the Boko Haram jihadist group. It has not yet commented.
According to UNICEF, five children have been used in suicide attacks since the beginning of the year.
In 2018, 48 children were used as human bombs in Nigeria, including 38 girls.
“UNICEF appeals to all those involved in this terrible conflict to protect children at all times and to keep them out of harm’s way,” the organisation said.
Formed in Borno State, Boko Haram has waged a brutal insurgency across the north-east for a decade.
As part of the ongoing armed conflict, thousands of children have been recruited and used by armed groups as combatants and non-combatants.
UNICEF said girls are raped and forced to marry, with some becoming pregnant in captivity and giving birth without medical care.
The blast took place outside a hall, as a group of people gathered to watch television.
Ali Hassan, leader of a self-defence group in Konduga, told AFP news agency that the owner of the hall had prevented one bomber from entering.
“There was a heated argument between the operator and the bomber who blew himself up,” he said.
Two other attackers who were nearby then set off their devices.
The number of casualties was high because emergency services arrived late at the site of the blast. They were not adequately equipped to deal with such a large number of wounded people, Usman Kachalla, head of operations at the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) told AFP.
Video halls are common across northern Nigeria. They are usually rudimentary buildings where people pay a small fee to watch football matches or films.
Boko Haram has targeted them on several occasions, saying they are un-Islamic.
Konduga has been targeted before. In July 2018, eight people were killed after a suicide bomber detonated explosives in a mosque. –BBC