Boko Haram crisis: Nigeria arrests 'female recruiters'

Hafsat Usman Bako Image copyright Nigerian military
Image caption One of the arrested women, named as Hafsat Usman Bako, is said to be the widow of a Boko Haram fighter

Three women have been arrested in Nigeria for recruiting female members for the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, the country's military says.

The women are said to have targeted widows and young girls, promising them marriage to Boko Haram members.

The militant group now has a female wing, the military says.

Boko Haram seems to be trying to get women to play a more active role in its insurgency, the BBC's Will Ross reports from Abuja.

Last month, a female suicide bomber died when she tried to attack a barracks in Gombe State - the first case of its kind in Nigeria.

The bomb detonated as she was being searched at a security checkpoint. One soldier was also killed.

Women have also been among those detained in mass arrests in cities like Maiduguri in northern Nigeria, a region where Boko Haram enjoys a measure of support.

The Nigerian military said the three women it had arrested were members of an intelligence cell.

One of them was said to be the widow of a Boko Haram militant.

The Islamist group is still holding more than 200 schoolgirls it captured in April in the town of Chibok in Borno state.

Boko Haram is demanding the release of its fighters and their relatives in exchange for the girls. The government has rejected this.

Who are Boko Haram?

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has been designated a terrorist by the US government
  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria - but also attacks on police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

Who are Boko Haram?

Profile: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau

Why Nigeria has not defeated Boko Haram

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