The number of children forced by Boko Haram to blow themselves up as "suicide" bombers increased more than tenfold last year, a United Nations agency said Tuesday, NBC News reported.
An estimated 44 children, some as young as 8 years old, were made to carry out attacks across Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad last year, according to report by children's agency UNICEF. This was up from just four in 2014.
"Let us be clear — these children are victims, not perpetrators," regional UNICEF director Manuel Fontaine said in a statement accompanying Tuesday's report.
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UNICEF's report, entitled "Beyond Chibok," was published two days before the second anniversary of Boko Haram's kidnapping of more than 270 schoolgirls from the Nigerian town of Chibok.
Although the Chibok abduction was one of the largest cases — sparking the ultimately fruitless #BringBackOurGirls appeal — Boko Haram is believed to have kidnapped more than 2,000 people in total.