Today, July 28 three female suicide bombers attacked a crowd of Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad’s Karrada district on their way to the Kadhimiya shrine of the 8th Century Imam Musa al-Kadhim. The latest report had the death toll at 32 with 100 wounded. It was the deadliest attack in the capitol since the June 13 attack in Hurriya by a Shiite Special Groups unit that killed 63. It was also the third deadliest female bombing this year. On March 17 a women attacked a crowd of Shiites in Karbala killing 40 and wounding 65. The most lethal was on February 1 when a women killed 45 and wounded 82 in a pet market in Baghdad, followed by a second female bomber who killed 27 and wounded 67 in another market. The last female suicide attack only a few days ago in Diyala province’s capitol Baquba on July 24.
The bombing was a coordinated one with the first blast occurring at around 7:45 am as pilgrims were taking a rest at Fardos Square where the famous footage of Saddam’s statue being taken down was filmed. As people fled the scene another woman detonated her bomb on a side street around five minutes later. The third woman set off her explosives 15 minutes later, perhaps aimed at rescue workers and concerned citizens looking to help the survivors. Each year, Shiite pilgrimages such as this one have been targeted by militants. More than one million people are expected to attend this year’s Kadhimiya ceremony, providing a tempting target for Sunni insurgents. The Iraqi government has deployed 100,000 security personnel to protect the event, including 200 women volunteers to search women visitors.
No group has claimed responsibility for the act, but female suicide bombers are becoming an increasing tactic used by Al Qaeda in Iraq. As documented earlier, the Islamist group has been running out of fighters and foreigners to carry out such attacks, and their overall ability to carry organized campaigns as they did in the past has been greatly degraded. The use of women bombers, while effective and headline grabbing, is actually a sign of the desperation of the organization.
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BBC News, “Iraq suicide blasts cause carnage,” 7/28/08
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Hacaoglu, Selcan, “Female suicide bombers kill at least 57 in Iraq,” Associated Press, 7/28/08
Spanger, Nicholas and Kadhim, Hussein, “Iraqi bombings kill dozens, wound more than 200,” McClatchy Newspapers, 7/28/08
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