By Haleem Asad
TIMERGARA:A nine-year-old girl escaped becoming a suicide bomber on Monday when she managed to dodge her kidnappers and get away from their custody.
Suhana, who was presented by the Lower Dir police before newsmen, said she had been asked by her kidnappers to carry out a suicide attack on a security checkpost at Islam Darra.
The girl, who appeared distraught and frightened, said she belonged to the Hashtnagri area of Peshawar. She was kidnapped by two men when she was going to school.
The kidnappers took her to a house and gave her some biscuits. “I became unconscious after eating the biscuits,” Suhana said, adding that early in the morning two men and two women moved her to a car.
She said when the car was near the Islam Darra checkpost, the kidnappers wrapped a suicide jacket around her body. “But it was too tight and they took it off,” she said. “Then they started preparing another jacket.” She used the opportunity to run away.
Lower Dir district police officer Saleem Marwat said she was spotted by Frontier Corps personnel when she was hiding in a bush.
Security forces searched the area and found a suicide jacket. “Ten kilograms of quality explosives were packed in the jacket,” he said.Police in Peshawar have been asked to trace the girl’s family.
The girl said she belonged to Peshawar but the way she was speaking suggested she could be from Swat, Buner or Dir.
Police appeared to have presented the girl before the media in haste. She could not pick journalists’ questions or answer
Some of her answers raised questions and doubts, but reporters were not allowed to ask further questions to get a clear picture.
She was handed over to security forces for interrogation.
Peshawar Bureau adds: Police in Peshawar expressed ignorance about the girl’s family and said that so far no complaint had been registered with them about kidnapping of a minor girl.
An official at the Hashtnagri police station told Dawn that it was difficult to trace the girls’ family because nobody had approached them regarding her disappearance.
An official at the Edhi Centre, which normally deals with cases of missing children, said he did not receive any complaint about kidnapping of such a girl.
AFP adds: Although her intentions could not be confirmed independently, it was the first time such a young girl has been reported carrying explosives and could signal a disturbing new tactic for the Taliban and other militants.
She was arrested about 50 metres from the Islam Darra checkpost on the outskirts of Timergara.
Police said the girl claimed to have been kidnapped several days ago in Peshawar and to have been taken to Lower Dir near the Afghan border.
“She was wearing eight kilograms of explosives which was quite heavy for her age. Her body language was suspicious,” Qazi Jamil-ur-Rehman, the regional police chief, told AFP by telephone.
“She is an innocent school girl and was scared. She is with us and we are trying to reach her family,” Mr Rehman added.
The girl appeared on national television wearing her blue and white school uniform.