Video: Officials question girl's suicide vest story

msnbc.com news services
updated 6/21/2011 3:30:47 PM ET 2011-06-21T19:30:47

Authorities are casting doubt over a 9-year-old girl's claim that she was abducted by militants on her way to school and forced to wear a suicide vest.

The girl, dressed in her blue and white school uniform, told her story Monday at a news conference arranged by police in Lower Dir.

The girl was identified as Sohana Jawed, a third-grader. She said she was abducted near her home in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Sunday and taken to Lower Dir district. She said she managed to escape her captors as they directed her to attack a paramilitary checkpoint.

She was found Monday.

"They put one suicide vest on me, but it did not fit. Then they put on a second one," she said, according to Reuters. "I threw away the vest and started shouting (for help) as I came close to the checkpost and they (security forces) took me into custody."

But police in Peshawar said they haven't received a complaint of a missing girl and haven't identified a resident with her name.

Authorities noted schools are closed for the summer in Peshawar and no school anywhere in the country would have classes on a Sunday, NBC News reported Tuesday.

Paramilitary officials say the girl was probably abducted from an area much farther north and kidnapped for ransom.

The girl comes from a poor family and her father is said to be a heroin addict, according to NBC News. After she was paraded in front of TV cameras, her family received death threats and have now gone into hiding, NBC reported.

Initial police reports of security incidents in Pakistan are sometimes wrong.

Militants in the country have often used young boys to carry out attacks, but the use of women is rare.

Knocked unconscious
The said during the news conference that she was grabbed by two women while on her way to school and forced into a car carrying two men.

One of the kidnappers put a handkerchief over her mouth that knocked her unconscious, Jawed said in a separate interview with a local TV station.

When she woke up and started crying, one of the women gave her cookies laced with something that again knocked her out, she said. The next time she woke up she found herself in a strange home, she said.

"This morning, the women and men forced me to put on the heavy jacket and put me in the car again," the girl said.

The suicide vest contained nearly 20 pounds of explosives and seemed to be designed to be set off remotely, Lower Dir police chief Salim Marwat told The Associated Press.

"Most likely it had to be detonated through a remote control since a minor was wearing it," he said.

According to the story, the kidnappers brought her to a checkpoint run by the paramilitary Frontier Corps located about 6 miles outside Timergarah, the main town in Lower Dir district.

When they got out of the car, she sprinted toward the paramilitary soldiers, said Marwat. He said she did so to show them what she was wearing, The Associated Press reported.

"I got the chance to release my hand from the woman and run," said the girl.

By the time the paramilitary soldiers realized what was happening, the kidnappers had escaped, said Marwat. Police have launched a search operation to find them, he said.

Asif Khan, the police chief in the area of Peshawar where the girl said she lived and was kidnapped, Hashtnagri, said they haven't received a complaint of a missing girl and haven't identified a resident with her name.

Police in Lower Dir plan to ask the girl additional questions after she is examined by a psychiatrist, who is helping her cope with the trauma of her ordeal.

"Police will try to get more information from her once she gets normalized," said Marwat.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Photos: Suicide bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan

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  1. People rush a man injured in the suicide bombing near Peshawar, Pakistan, to a hospital on Friday, Nov. 5. The bomber struck a mosque in Darra Adam Khel, killing more than 60 people. (Mohammad Iqbal / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A woman walks away from the bomb attack at the mosque in Darra Adam Khel. She was rushed to a local hospital in Peshawar. (Arshad Arbab / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Pakistani soldiers inspect the scene of the mosque attack on Friday. (Bilawal Arbab / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Residents of Darra Adam Khel view the inside of the mosque after the bombing. (Bilawal Arbab / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A victim of the suicide attack is carried into a hospital in Peshawar. (Arshad Arbab / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Paramedics treat an injured boy at a hospital in Peshawar. (Hasham Ahmed / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A boy, 12, rests at a hospital in Peshawar after surviving the bombing. (Adrees Latif / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Relatives identify bodies of some of the bombing victims. (Arshad Arbab / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A wall of the mosque is cleaned up following the attack. (Mohammad Sajjad / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Graves are dug for victims of the mosque bombing on Friday. (Str/pakistan / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image:
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    Above: Slideshow (10) Suicide bombing in Pakistan
  2. Daryl Cagle / MSNBC.com, Politicalcartoons.com
    Slideshow (11) Osama Found in Pakistan

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