Suicide Bomber Kills 10 In Iraq's Diyala Province

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, October 9, 2008

BAGHDAD, Oct. 8 -- A suicide bomber killed at least 10 people in Diyala province Wednesday morning in an attack that appeared to target Iraqi security forces, Iraqi officials said.

The female attacker set off the explosives about 11:20 a.m. in the province's capital, Baqubah, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. The attack occurred outside the city's frequently targeted courthouse, where law enforcement officials congregate.

Citing initial reports, a U.S. military spokesman, Staff Sgt. Chris Stagner, said the blast killed five Iraqi soldiers and two civilians. He said 21 people were wounded.

Several nearby shops and buildings suffered considerable damage, Iraqi officials said.

Iraqi and U.S. officials say al-Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent groups have turned to women and teenagers to carry out suicide bombings as it has become harder for the group to get non-Iraqi Arabs to travel to the country to carry out attacks. Widows and teenagers in poor, war-ravaged areas have proven to be susceptible to pressure from insurgents, U.S. officials say. Some female suicide bombers are widows of slain insurgents and motivated by vengeance, officials say.

Since 2003, more than 50 women in Iraq have carried out suicide bombings or were detained before detonating explosives, including 30 this year, according to the U.S. military. Such bombings have killed at least 380 people and wounded hundreds.

Ibrahim Hasan Bajilan, chairman of the Diyala provincial council, said U.S. military officials detained a man Wednesday who was unable to carry out a suicide bombing nearby.

Bajilan said he was told the female suicide bomber was a 16-year-old from Muqdadiyah, a town northeast of Baghdad.

The blast appeared to target a group of Iraqi soldiers who were conducting a patrol with policemen from Khalis, a town near Baqubah, Iraqi officials said. The town's mayor said this was the third time his officers have been targeted near the courthouse.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops killed two terror suspects during raids in the volatile city of Mosul, in northern Iraq. One of the men was killed after he reached for the weapon of a U.S. soldier, the military said in a statement. At another location, a man was killed after he disregarded orders to stop approaching U.S. soldiers, which made them perceive "hostile intent," the military said.

A Washington Post special correspondent in Baqubah and special correspondents K.I. Ibrahim and Qais Mizher in Baghdad contributed to this report.

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