AP | Feb. 1, 2008
Two women suicide bombers who have killed nearly 80 people in Baghdad were Down’s Syndrome victims exploited by al Qaida. The explosives were detonated by remote control in a co-ordinated attack after the women walked into separate crowded markets, said the chief Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad General Qassim al-Moussawi.
Other officials said the women were apparently unaware of what they were doing in what could be a new method by suspected Sunni insurgents to subvert toughened security measures.
More than 70 people died and scores were wounded in the deadliest day since the US “surge” of 30,000 extra troops were sent to the capital this spring.
In the first attack, a woman detonated explosives hidden under her traditional black Islamic robe in the central al-Ghazl market. The weekly bazaar has been bombed several times since the war started but recently had re-emerged as a popular place to shop and stroll as Baghdad security improved. At least 46 people were killed and more than 100 wounded.
The second woman then struck a bird market in a predominantly Shiite area in south-eastern Baghdad killing up to 27 people and wounding 70.
The attacks shortly before the weekly Islamic call to prayer resounded across the capital were the latest in a series of violent incidents that have been chipping away at Iraqi confidence in the permanence of recent security gains.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said the attacked were committed by terrorists motivated by revenge and “to show that they are still able to stop the march of history and of our people toward reconciliation.”
Police initially said the bomb at al-Ghazl market was hidden in a box of birds but realised it was a suicide attack after finding the woman’s head, an officer said.
At least four other suicide bombings have been staged by women since November, all in the volatile Diyala province north-east of the capital.
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