Tuesday, March 29, 2016 7:36 am
Authorities in Cameroon have poured doubt on a would-be suicide bomber’s claim that she is one of the 276 Nigerian school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram jihadists in 2014.
“We don’t think that she was one of the girls (kidnapped) from Chibok,” an administration official who requested anonymity told AFP, citing inconsistencies over her apparent age.
The girl in question is one of two would-be suicide bombers arrested in northern Cameroon on Friday wearing 12-kilogramme (26-pound) explosives belts.
Nigeria is planning to send a delegation, including Chibok parents, to Cameroon to meet the girl, and the presidency said late Monday that people from the town were being shown her photograph to see if they recognised her.
“The girl was found to be heavily drugged and bore several injuries on her body. The girl’s health condition had delayed her movement to the far north regional capital of Cameroon, Maroua, as earlier planned,” the presidency said.
“Pictures of the arrested suspected bomber obtained by Nigerian officials indicated that the girl was likely a minor, between ages nine to 12 years,” the statement added.
The “Bring Back Our Girls” advocacy group said that the youngest of those kidnapped in 2014 was 16 years old at the time.
Boko Haram has carried out suicide bombings often using girls as part of its armed campaign to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.
Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of Cameroon’s North Region had already on Saturday voiced doubts about the claim by one of the two girls arrested that she had been part of the mass kidnapping.
“We are treating this statement with caution,” he said, adding that such would-be attackers “are often drugged and can say anything”.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu on Sunday echoed those doubts, noting that the girl appeared too young to be one of the kidnapped girls.
The Nigerian presidency said Monday that the girl’s accomplice appeared to be in her thirties, after earlier reports that the other bomber was also aged around ten. Both spoke the local Kanuri language.