World

Moroccan girl reportedly mistaken for missing Madeleine McCann

A missing British four-year-old is not the fair-haired girl depicted in a tourist's snapshot, reporters claiming to have tracked down the Moroccan lookalike said Wednesday.

'Bushra is my little girl. She is not Madeleine,' olive farmer tells London paper

A missing British four-year-old is not the fair-haired girl depicted in a tourist's snapshot, reporters claiming to have tracked down the Moroccan lookalike said Wednesday.

British and Spanish journalists say the fair-haired child in this Aug. 31 photo taken by a tourist in Morocco is not missing British four-year-old Madeleine McCann. ((Associated Press))

British and Spanish journalistswho flewto the North African country, where the picture was taken by a Spanish tourist three weeks ago, managed to trace the girl and her family to the northern village of Zinat.

London's Evening Standard newspaper reported Wednesday that the light-skinned girl did bear some resemblance to Madeleine McCann, who went missing from a Portuguese vacation resort in May.

However, upon meeting the five-year-old Moroccan and her family of olive farmers up close, the reporters determined it was not the missing British girl.

"She has got a resemblance to Madeleine but when you see her properly, it is obvious it isn't her," Evening Standard reporter Rashid Razaq told the BBC.

A Spanish reporter said villagerswho saw the photo identified the girl not as Madeleine, but asBushra Binhisa, a Moroccan girl of Berber origin.

The Evening Standard interviewed the girl's father, Hamid Binhisa.

Speaking through an interpreter, he told the London newspaper: "Bushra is my little girl. She is not Madeleine. I do feel sorry for her parents, I hope they find Madeleine. But Bushra is definitely my daughter."

Photo experts with Interpol were using face-mapping technologyWednesdayto analyze the picturein question.

The photo, taken on Aug. 31 in Tangiers, showed a fair-skinned girl with blond hair being carried in a sling on an elderly woman's back.

The photographer, Clara Torres,said she noticed the young girl'sstriking resemblance to Madeleinewhile vacationing. She latercontacted the McCanns' lawyer, who then passedthe pictureon to Interpol.

Madeleine'sparents, Kate and Gerry McCann,had prepared themselves to treat the latestpotential development ontheir daughter's whereaboutswith caution.

Citing numerous bogus sightings of the young girl, a spokesman for the family said the McCanns were not ready tojump to conclusions after having placed so much hope in previous false leads.

Bushra Binhisa, age 5, seen at her home in northern Morocco on Wednesday, is thought to be the girl photographed by a Spanish tourist in Zinat. ((Abdeljalil Bounhar/Associated Press))

"Kate and Gerry know all too well, through bitter experience, that all of the sightings up to now have come to nothing, unfortunately," said Clarence Mitchell, who speaks for the McCanns.

There have been twoprevious sightings of a little girl in Morocco matching Madeleine's description, and at one point, the McCanns went to Morocco to publicize the hunt for their daughter.

Tourists in Marrakechreported spotting a blond-haired child they thought resembled Madeleine on May 9, just six days after she went missing.

Mitchell said Kate and Gerry McCann now have a policy not to comment on such reports, although he told the BBC early Wednesday that "on an initial glance at it, it appears to look like Madeleine — about the right age and of European appearance."

Kate and Gerry McCann, both medical doctors, were named by Portuguese police earlier in September as formal suspects in their daughter's disappearance.

The couple has denied the allegations, saying they believe Madeleine is still alive and was taken to another country.