PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Pakistani police said Monday they detained a nine-year-old school girl allegedly strapped with a bomb and told to blow up a police checkpoint in the country's troubled northwest.
Although her intentions could not be confirmed independently, it was the first time such a young girl has been reported carrying explosives in Pakistan and could signal a disturbing new tactic for the Taliban and other militants.
She was arrested about 50 metres from the Islam Darra police checkpoint on the outskirts of Taimargara, the main town in the district of Lower Dir, where Pakistan in 2009 fought to put down a Taliban insurgency.
Police said the girl claimed to have been abducted several days ago in the main northwestern city of 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," Rehman added.
The girl appeared on national television wearing her blue and white school uniform.
"They kept me in a house and they told me to push the button when I reach near policemen," she told reporters during a press conference.
Police said they were hunting those responsible.
Suicide attacks carried out by women and children are very rare in Pakistan but militant groups have frequently used teenage boys.
On December 26, 2010, a burqa-clad female suicide bomber struck a UN food distribution point and killed 43 people in Khar, the main town in the restive Bajaur tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
Nearly 4,500 people have been killed across Pakistan in attacks blamed on Taliban and other Islamist extremist networks based in the tribal belt since government troops stormed a radical mosque in Islamabad in 2007.
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