ABUJA (Reuters) - A suspected suicide bomber intercepted in northern Cameroon last week before she could blow herself up is not one of 219 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in the Nigerian town of Chibok in 2014, an African public advocacy group said on Wednesday.
The abduction of about 270 school girls by the Islamist militant group sparked international outrage and a campaign for their safe return. Some 50 of the girls managed to escape but 219 are still missing.
The Murtala Muhammed Foundation (MMF), a non-government organization, partnered with Nigeria’s government to help parents from Chibok verify the girl’s identity after she claimed to be among the missing students.
Nigeria’s government had said it was keen to ascertain the girl’s identity so that she could possibly assist the government in investigations regarding the fate and whereabouts of the missing Chibok girls.
MMF chief Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode said three representatives of parents of the missing students looked at photographs of the girl and a woman she was arrested with and said they “do not fit the description of any of the missing daughters from Chibok”.
She said the Nigerian government told her group on Tuesday that the girl identified herself as a 12-year-old originally from Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, who was abducted from Bama about 60 km (40 miles) away, when the town was overrun by Boko Haram a year ago.
The woman was said to have identified herself as a 35-year-old mother of two. Muhammed-Oyebode said the pair had been handed to the Nigerian military and were returning to Nigeria.
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was criticized for his slow reaction to the Chibok kidnappings, which was seen by some as indicative of his response to Boko Haram, which at its strongest held large swathes of northeastern Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who defeated Jonathan in an election last year, ordered a new investigation into the abductions in January.
Joint operations between Nigeria and neighboring countries drove Boko Haram from many of its strongholds last year but the group has stepped up cross-border attacks and suicide bombings, many of which have been carried out by young girls.
Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Tom Brown