The source said that in most cases, children and teenagers are forced to be at the forefront of the battle against the Nigerian troops through ambushing and suicide bombing. He added that there are established cases of women and children getting involved in terrorism like the recent bombings in schools.
On several occasions, the Nigerian military has captured 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 security source said, “We are being cautious in abiding by the rules of engagement even when we are aware that the militants recruit children to spy on us and push 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.”
Reliable sources suggested that insurgents have relied on the knowledge that Nigerian troops have a responsibility to observe strict rules of engagement and also avoid a situation whereby patriotic citizens caught in the middle of conflict will lose their lives.
“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 rule of engagement?
“It may become inevitable that some collateral damages may be recorded if we get the order 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.
“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 said.
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