A 9-year-old girl who was kidnapped on her way to school and forced to wear a suicide bomb vest managed to escape her captors today as they directed her to attack a paramilitary checkpoint in northwest Pakistan, both she and police officials said. Sohana Jawed, who is in third grade, was on her way to school on Saturday when she was grabbed by two women and forced into a car carrying two men, she said during a news conference. One of the kidnappers reportedly put a handkerchief on her mouth that knocked her unconscious.
When she woke up and started crying, one of the women gave her cookies laced with something that again knocked her out, Jawed said; the next time she woke up she found herself in a strange home. "This morning, the women and men forced me to put on the heavy jacket and put me in the car again." Police say the vest contained nearly 20 pounds of explosives that seemed designed to be set off remotely. But after arriving at a military checkpoint, she broke free from the kidnappers and sprinted toward the paramilitary soldiers to show them what she was wearing. It's unclear why the kidnappers didn't detonate the suicide bomb vest after Jawed ran away. A police chief suggested they may have simply panicked and fled. Militants in Pakistan have often used young boys to carry out attacks, but the use of young girls is rare. (Read more suicide bomber stories.)