On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

Nine-year-old Sohana Jawed was snatched off the street, drugged, outfitted in a suicide vest and told to go kill Pakistani policemen.

The third grader refused to cooperate, throwing off the vest as she ran toward police screaming for help, according to Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

Dressed in her blue school uniform and a white headscarf, Sohana told police in Pakistan’s city of Peshawar that she was abducted by two women and two men as she walked to school. The kidnappers threw her into their car and drugged her.  When she woke up and started crying, one of the women gave her cookies laced with something that again knocked her out. The next time she woke up, she found herself in a strange home.

The next morning, “the women and men forced me to put on the heavy jacket and put me in the car again,” she told police. The jacket was a suicide vest containing nearly 20 pounds of explosives and seemed to be designed to be set off remotely, police spokesman Salim Marwat told reporters.

Her captors drove her to the Islam Darra checkpoint on the outskirts of Taimargara, the largest town in the Lower Dir district near the Afghan border, where Pakistan fought to put down a Taliban insurgency in 2009.

”They put one suicide vest on me, but it did not fit. Then they put on another one,” Sohana told a news conference, according to Investors’ Business News. She escaped from the car as they tried to fit the second vest.

”I got the chance to release my hand from the woman and run. I threw away the vest and started shouting as I came close to the checkpoint.”’

Her kidnappers had told her to push the button, detonating the vest “when I reached the policemen,” she told Ben Doherty of the Herald’s morning staff.

Marwat said police had located the girl’s family ”somewhere in Peshawar,” but did not give specifics for fear of reprisal attacks against the family. Sohana would be reunited with her parents and brother in the evening, he said.

”She was upset because the kidnappers told her she would have to be a suicide bomber,” he said. “but now she is 100 per cent well, she is writing her name and she is OK to go home to her family.”

By the time police at the checkpoint realized what was happening, the kidnappers had escaped, said Marwat.

Police have launched a search operation to find them, he said.

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