A female suicide bomber believed to be no more than 10 years old has seriously injured another person when she blew herself up in a New Year’s Eve attack in Nigeria.
The attack, which took place in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, is believed to be the work of Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, who are notorious for using female suicide bombers to target civilians.
Witnesses said the young girl was buying noodles from a stall in the Customs area of the city at around 9.30pm on Saturday when she detonated her explosives.
"The girl walked towards the crowd but she blew up before she could reach her target," Grema Usman, who lives in the area, told the AFP agency.
"(Judging) from her corpse the girl was around ten years old," Mr Usman said.
The girl reportedly died instantly, while another person was hit by shrapnel.
The rise of Boko Haram
The rise of Boko Haram
1/19 Boko Haram
The leader of the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau delivers a message. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the mass killings in the north-east Nigerian town of Baga in a video where he warned the massacre “was just the tip of the iceberg”. As many as 2,000 civilians were killed and 3,700 homes and business were destroyed in the 3 January 2015 attack on the town near Nigeria's border with Cameroon
2/19 Boko Haram
People displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast region of Nigeria, are seen near their tents at a faith-based camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Yola, Adamawa State. Boko Haram says it is building an Islamic state that will revive the glory days of northern Nigeria's medieval Muslim empires, but for those in its territory life is a litany of killings, kidnappings, hunger and economic collapse
3/19 Boko Haram
Nitsch Eberhard Robert, a German citizen abducted and held hostage by suspected Boko Haram militants, is seen as he arrives at the Yaounde Nsimalen International airport after his release in Yaounde, Cameroon on 21 January 2015
4/19 Boko Haram
Officials of the Nigerian National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) visit victims of a bomb blast in Gombe at the Specialist Hospital in Gombe. According to local reports at least six people were killed and 11 wounded after a bomb blast in a marketplace in Nigeria's northeastern state of Gombe on 16 January 2015. Islamist militant group Boko Haram has been blamed for a string of recent attacks in the North East of Nigeria
5/19 Boko Haram
People gather at the site of a bomb explosion in a area know to be targeted by the militant group Boko Haram in Kano on 28 November 2014
6/19 Boko Haram
People gather to look at a burnt vehicle following a bomb explosion that rocked the busiest roundabout near the crowded Market in Maiduguri, Borno State on 1 July 2014. A truck exploded in a huge fireball killing at least 15 people in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the city repeatedly hit by Boko Haram Islamists
7/19 Boko Haram
President Goodluck Jonathan visits Nigerian Army soldiers fighting Boko Haram
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Displaced people from Baga listen to Goodluck Jonathan after the Boko Haram killings
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Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan speaking to troops during a visit to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State; most of the region has been overrun by Boko Haram
10/19 Boko Haram
Members of the Nigerian military patrolling in Maiduguri, North East Nigeria, close to the scene of attacks by Boko Haram
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Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, appears in a video in which he warns Cameroon it faces the same fate as Nigeria
12/19 Boko Haram
South Africans protest in solidarity against the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram and what protesters said was the failure of the Nigerian government and international community to rescue them, during a march to the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg
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Boko Haram militants have seized the town in north-eastern Nigeria that nearly 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped from in April 2014
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A soldier stands guard in front of burnt buses after an attack in Abuja. Twin blasts at a bus station packed with morning commuters on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital killed dozens of people, in what appeared to be the latest attack by Boko Haram Islamists, April 2014
15/19 Boko Haram
The aftermath of the attack, when Boko Haram fighters in trucks painted in military colours killed 51 people in Konduga in February 2014
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The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau (with papers) in a video grab taken in July 2014
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Ruins of burnt out houses in the north-eastern settlement of Baga, pictured after Boko Haram attacks in 2013
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A Boko Haram attack in Nigeria, 2013
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Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s leader
An aid worker involved in the evacuation of area gave a similar estimate of the young bomber's age.
"The girl was clearly not more than ten and this could have made her too nervous, making her detonate the explosives prematurely," the aid worker said.
A second female suicide bomber was reportedly caught by an angry mob before her bomb was safely detonated by security forces.
In December, two girls aged between seven and eight blew themselves up and injured nineteen other people in attacks on the market.
Authorities blamed this attack on Boko Haram, whose seven-year insurgency has killed an estimated 20,000 people and displaced around 2.6 million others.
The terrorist group aims to create an Islamic state governed by strict Sharia law, and has been active in Nigeria and the surrounding countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon since 2009.
The group came to worldwide media attention after kidnapping 276 schoolgirls in 2014 who it said it intended to sell into slavery. Around 50 of the girls have since escaped, while the rest remain missing.
Saturday's attack came just a month after Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said the jihadist group had been “crushed” with soldiers flushing out the militants' last enclave in the vast Sambisa forest.
In December, the UN warned as many as 75,000 people could die in the coming year in north-eastern Nigeria unless there was a renewed effort from the international community.
The UN said there were predictions of a major famine, mainly due to the insecurity caused by the activities of Boko Haram.