After suicide bombings last Sunday in Fotokol by two women wearing burkas, Northern Cameroon on Wednesday banned women from wearing burkas and face-covering veils. The suicide bombers smuggled the bombs into public areas by hiding them under their veils. The attack, initiated by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram [BBC backgrounder], killed at least 14 people. As part of the ban, it was also decided [AP report] by government officials that Muslims are not permitted to meet in large groups without permission. The governor of Cameroon’s Far North Region, Midjiyawa Bakari, plans to increase security and further investigate the unexpected bombings. Some have protested the new ban, arguing that wearing a burka is not a choice and that it is necessary to wear for religious reasons. However, government officials plan to keep the ban in effect as long as necessary to prevent further attacks.
Boko Haram has been fighting to overthrow the Nigerian government in the interest of creating an Islamist state. In January, the UN Security Council [official website] condemned [JURIST report] attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria and called for an end to terrorist attacks and release of abducted child soldiers. The hostilities include mass killings, destruction of civilian homes and suicide bombings where children where induced [JURIST report] to carry out the attacks and act as suicide bombers in January. Last year Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that Boko Haram had forced kidnapped women and girls to marry their captors and began using them for military tactical purposes. Boko Haram was criticized [JURIST report] last May by the UN after it claimed responsibility for kidnapping more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in April and announced plans to sell and “marry them off.” US President Obama promised to send resources for investigatory purposes, sharply criticizing the perpetrators and calling Boko Haram “one of the worst regional or local terrorist organizations … in Nigeria.”