Despite improving efforts by both American and Iraqi forces, women are still being exploited for acts like this.
BAGHDAD — A female homicide bomber detonated an explosives vest Wednesday in a city northeast of Baghdad, killing 11 people and wounding 19, Iraqi officials said.
The attack occurred around 11:30 a.m. in front of a courthouse in downtown Baqouba, the provincial capital of Diyala, one of Iraq’s most violent areas, police said.
It was apparently intended to be a double homicide bombing, but a man accompanying the woman failed to detonate his explosives vest and was arrested at the scene, provincial council chief Ibrahim Bajilan said.
“We were inside the court building when we heard a thunderous explosion followed by people’s cries,” said Abu Mohammed, a 55-year-old lawyer in the courthouse at the time. “We rushed outside the building. We couldn’t see anything because smoke was everywhere.”
Abu Mohammed, who would only give his nickname for security reasons, said the target appeared to be Iraqi army Humvees parked nearby. He said about five shops in front of the courthouse were damaged.
Baqouba and surrounding areas have been struck by several female bombers in recent months despite U.S. efforts to recruit and train more women for the Iraqi security forces.
The military has warned that insurgents are increasingly using women as attackers because their billowing, black robes easily hide explosives and they are less likely to be searched.
Bajilan expressed frustration with the continued attacks. U.S. and Iraqi forces have launched several operations in the area but have failed to rout Al Qaeda in Iraq militants from their safe havens.
“It seems that Baqouba is infiltrated and the terrorists have a foothold in it,” Bajilan told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “They have people who offer them safe shelter and carry out attacks.”
He said local authorities have deployed more than 50 women in the area to search for possible female bombers, but more were needed to control the roads leading to the city.
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