CBNNews.com - Remote controlled bombs strapped to two mentally handicapped women were detonated Friday in separate attacks on Baghdad pet bazaars. Police said the attacks killed at least 91 people and wounded dozens more.
The attacks were the deadliest in the Iraqi capital since the U.S. military began the surge of American troops last spring.
Both women had Downs Syndrome according to chief Iraqi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, who seemed to indicate that the women may not have been willing participants in the attacks.
"There is nothing they won't do if they think it will work in creating carnage and the political fallout that comes from that," he told The Associated Press in an interview at the State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the use of mentally disabled women as suicide bombers proves al-Qaida is "the most brutal and bankrupt of movements."
Rice said attacks like these will strengthen Iraqi resolve to reject terrorism and while "the struggle is not over," it shows that Iraqis have been right to "turn against these terrible violent people."
The first attack occurred around 10:20 a.m. in the central al-Ghazl market. Police said at least 46 people were killed and 100 injured in the explosion. The weekly market has proved to be popular with shoppers as Baghdad security improved and a Friday ban on driving was lifted.
Roughly 20 minutes later, a second female suicide bomber struck a bird market in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood. That attack killed as many as 27 people and wounded 67, police said.
Involving women in fighting violates several religious taboos in Iraq. But many terrorism experts have warned that female suicide bombers are the mark of al-Qaeda in Iraq. The group has become known for recruiting women and young people to stage suicide attacks in a desperate effort to side-step increased security measures.
The number of Iraqi civilians and security forces killed in January fell to at least 599, according to an Associated Press tally. It is the lowest monthly death toll since December 2005, and continuing a downward trend since the fall.
Iraqi Ministry of Defense officials calculated the figure slightly lower at 543.
Source: Associated Press.