Woman Sets Off Suicide Bomb In Shiite Area Of Baghdad

By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, February 18, 2008

BAGHDAD, Feb. 17 -- A suicide bomber detonated her explosives in a commercial area in a Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad on Sunday morning, the latest in a string of attacks by female bombers in Iraq.

Police said the bomber killed three people and injured five. But the U.S. military said only the bomber was killed and two people were injured. The military said Iraqi soldiers noticed that the woman, who appeared to be a beggar, appeared bulky around her midsection. The soldiers ordered her to raise her hands, and as she raised one, they noticed an object with wires attached in her other hand, the military said in a statement.

Sensing the potential danger, the soldiers fired three rounds. The woman staggered back to a nearby shop, where the blast occurred, the military said. It was unclear why the two death tolls differed.

The U.S. military also reported that two U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday by small-arms fire north of Baghdad in restive Diyala province, where the Sunni insurgency remains potent.

In the northern city of Mosul, where U.S. and Iraqi forces have mounted an offensive against insurgents, a car bomb killed a policeman and wounded two others as well as two civilians, police said.

And in Tikrit, in north-central Iraq, a roadside bomb planted outside a well-known mosque killed a policeman and injured two of his colleagues, said Capt. Bassem al-Douri.

The violence came as a U.S. military official said that insurgent assaults across Iraq had declined by more than 60 percent since a U.S.-led security offensive was launched a year ago. Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, the top U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said that a year ago there was an average of 205 attacks daily across Iraq. Last month, he said, the military had tracked 82 attacks per day. In Baghdad, attacks dropped from 46 per day last June to 11 per day last month, Smith said.

Echoing other U.S. military officials, Smith cautioned that insurgents could still commit large-scale attacks. "Stability will take time and a continued commitment by all," he said.

Special correspondent Zaid Sabah in Baghdad and Washington Post staff in Mosul and Tikrit contributed to this report.

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