Female suicide bombers blow up more than 200 people in Iraq

Female suicide bombers blow up more than 200 people in Iraq
# 01 February 2008 16:26 (UTC +04:00)
An Iraqi official said the devices were attached to two mentally disabled women, and were detonated remotely.
Friday morning’s death toll was the city’s highest since violence fell in the wake of a US troop surge in the second half of 2007.
Correspondents say a fragile sense of normality in the capital had followed significant security improvements since the troop surge.
A ceasefire announced in August by the Mehdi Army militia of Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, as well as the emergence of local Sunni militia armed by the US military that took on al-Qaeda in Iraq, have also contributed to the sense of security.
But that renewed confidence could be shattered by Friday’s deadly bombings, the worst to hit the Iraqi capital since three car bombs killed 80 people last 1 August.
The blasts came shortly before the call to Friday prayers when many Iraqis were out shopping or meeting friends.
The first device was detonated by a female suicide bomber at around 1020 local time (0720GMT) in the popular Ghazil animal market, killing at least 46 people and injuring a further 80.
A popular spectacle for Baghdadis, the animal market only opens on Fridays and regularly draws large crowds, despite having been targeted by bombers twice in 2007.
Just 20 minutes after the first explosion, a second bomb tore through another crowded market in the Jadida area of east Baghdad, killing at least 18 people and injuring 30.
Iraqi security forces spokesman Brig Qassem Ata al-Moussawi told the BBC: "The operation was carried out by two booby-trapped mentally disabled women. [The bombs] were detonated remotely.
"Forensic and bomb squad experts as well as the people and traders of Al-Shorja area of the carpet market have confirmed that the woman who was blown-up there today was often in the area and was mentally disabled...
"In the New Baghdad area the shop owners and customers of the pet market confirmed that the woman who was blown-up there was mentally disabled as well."
Police and medical officials piled the dead and injured into wheelbarrows, cars and the back of pick-up trucks to be transported to five hospitals across the city.
An official at the capital’s Kindi hospital said at least 30 bodies had been received.
"We have a disaster here," he said. "There are too many bodies to count."