Some of Boko Haram’s most dangerous fighters are kids

“They can lead. They can fight. They can cause all kinds of damage,” said a senior Nigerian military officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. Boko Haram has suffered major defeats over the past year and has lost much of the territory it controlled. But the group is still a threat, carrying out frequent terror attacks…

In its report, UNICEF claimed that many of the boys who are considered Boko Haram fighters are actually acting under enormous pressure.

“Boys are forced to attack their own families to demonstrate their loyalty to Boko Haram,” the report said. For the children, the alternative is often death.

Other researchers have found that some boys initially joined Boko Haram because the group claimed to espouse Islamic values in a mixed Christian-Muslim country where Muslims have often complained of discrimination. In some cases, Boko Haram militants offered boys cash loans for joining.