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Female attackers carry out Baghdad market blasts with some 215 people killed, injured
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08:03, February 02, 2008

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Female Iraqi attackers carried out explosions at two Baghdad pet markets on Friday, killing at least 65 people and injuring some 150 others, according to a source with the Interior Ministry.

The first explosion carried out by a female suicide bomber who blew up herself among crowds at the popular al-Ghazil market in central Baghdad in the morning, leaving at least 38 people killed and 82 injured, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The market has seen several bomb strikes over the past year with the latest leaving 13 dead and 57 injured on Nov. 23. Explosives were hidden in a box used for carrying birds in that attack, which also took place on Friday, the only day the market is open.

The second explosion came about 20 minutes later at another pet market in southern Baghdad, killing 27 people and wounding 67 others, according to the same source.

"An explosive charge, hidden in a box containing birds, detonated at a popular market in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad al-Jadida," said the source.

An Iraqi security spokesman, however, blamed the incident on two mentally retarded women attackers.

Major-General Qassim Moussawi, spokesman for the Baghdad security plan, said mobile phones were found on the sites and it was believed that the explosives strapped on the two mentally retarded women were detonated by remote control.

As more areas in Iraq are off-limit to vehicles in a bid toward off car bombings and check on suicide bombers are getting more stringent, women has become convenient carriers of bombs because they usually wear traditional robes and can clear checks if there are no female inspectors.

Two suicide bombings by female attackers have been reported since December in the neighboring Diyala province.

Friday's bombings were the most gruesome for months in the capital city and served as a stark reminder that spectacular bloodshed remains possible despite a recent lull.

Security has improved in Iraq since June when the U.S. troops launched offensive with extra troops. The uprising of Sunnis against al-Qaida and the halt of fire offered by a major Shiite militia also contributed to the turnaround.

However, officers of the U.S. military in Iraq has warned that al-Qaida is still capable of waging large-scale attacks.

According to a report on Wednesday by London-based Opinion Research Business, as of August 2007, an estimated 1 million Iraqis have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Source: Xinhua

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