Chad police arrested 62 women for wearing full veils in public as the country steps up security against extremism following multiple suicide bombing attacks, as the first major arrests of women for the veil ban have been carried out in the capital, N’djamena, in line with “anti-terrorism” measures, a police spokes person stated.
Chadian authorities banned wearing full veils also known as ‘Burkas’ in public places in June to prevent suicide attacks, especially by the Nigerian armed group Boko Haram. The group used women and children to carry out five suicide bombings in a village near Lake Chad, killing at least 36 people. The women will be released after paying a 100 000 CFA (CAD$219; US$170) fine, he said, adding that if they are repeatedly arrested they will be charged with complicity with the extremists.
Muslim-majority Chad banned the full-face veil, ramped up security measures and bombed Boko Haram positions in Nigeria in June after the first ever attack by the armed group in its capital. Boko Haram has used dozens of girls and women in recent suicide bombings in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, raising fears it is using kidnap victims to target countries that have pledged to contribute to a regional force to combat the group.
A largely semi-desert country, Chad is rich in gold and uranium and stands to benefit from its recently-acquired status as an oil-exporting state. However, Africa’s 5th largest nation suffers from inadequate infrastructure, and internal conflict. Chad became an oil-producing nation in 2003, with the completion of a $4bn pipeline linking its oilfields to terminals on the Atlantic coast. The government has moved to relax a law controlling the use of oil money, which the World Bank had made a condition of its $39m loan.
Since late 2013 Chad has played host to tens of thousands of refugees who have fled the fighting in the neighboring Central African Republic, and in 2015 the country pledged military support to Cameroon in repelling the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency. Boko Haram responded by attacking the Chadian shore of Lake Chad, raising fears that the insurgency might spread east.