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NIGERIA: Boys Forced to Become Child Soldiers

NIGERIA: Boys Forced to Become Child Soldiers

The world was horrified when the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in 2014. But less coverage has been given to the kidnapping of more than 10,000 boys over the last three years by the terror group and their brutal coercion tactics, forcing children to wage jihad.

The allegations are contained in a stunning investigative report by Drew Hinshaw and Joe Parkinson in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Shortly after the Chibok schoolgirls were seized, Boko Haram attacked six villages in the nearby mountains and rounded up children there, with little media coverage beyond the Nigerian press.

A few months later, the group captured the town of Damasak and took 300 students, mostly boys, aged 7 to 17. The militants imprisoned them in a school. Their parents were held in separate rooms. For months, the children were forced to learn the Koran. Eventually, Boko Haram ditched the parents and fled with the children.

In the forest outside Maiduguri, Boko Haram ran one of their boot camps for boys. Children as young as five years old learned to handle assault rifles and practise marching. Their weapon instructor was only 15 himself.

“I was terrified if I didn’t do it, they would kill me,” the teen instructor told the WSJ. He was kidnapped by the radical group in 2014 but later escaped.

The WSJ interviewed 16 young Nigerians who escaped the snare of Boko Haram, along with other witnesses, soldiers, researchers, officials and diplomats in Nigeria and Cameroon. The boys were sent into battle, often unarmed, frequently numbed by drugs. Many of the boys were beaten and some died of starvation or thirst.

Source: Assist News Service, International Christian Concern

 Prayer Points

  • Pray the Lord will rescue these abducted and abused boys. May they find Jesus to be their healer and deliverer.
  • Pray that parents would be given extra wisdom and love to care for boys who escape and return home.
  • Pray the Lord will intervene to bring an end to the unrest; pray He will grant wisdom and direction to the government, military and police as they try to rescue captives and stop the violence of Boko Haram.