A woman, disguised in a man's robes and headdress, slipped into a line of army recruits and detonated explosives strapped to her body Wednesday, killing at least six recruits and wounding 35 near the border with Syria, the first known suicide attack by a woman in Iraq's insurgency.
The attack appeared aimed at showing that militants could still strike in a town where U.S. and Iraqi offensives drove out insurgents only two weeks before. A female suicide bomber may have been chosen because she could get through the checkpoints leading into the town of Tal Afar, at which women are rarely searched, then don her disguise to join the line of men, Iraqi officials said.
Iraq's most notorious insurgent group, al Qaeda in Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack in an Internet statement, saying it was carried out by a "blessed sister."
It came a day after U.S. and Iraqi officials announced their forces killed the second-in-command of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abdullah Abu Azzam, in a raid in Baghdad over the weekend. Still, the killing has not slowed insurgent violence, with at least 83 people, including six U.S. servicemembers killed in attacks since Sunday.
In other developments:President Bush on Wednesday warned there will be an upsurge in violence in Iraq before next month's voting, but said the terrorists will fail. "We can expect they'll do everything in their power to try to stop the march of freedom," Bush said. "And our troops are ready for it." Mr. Bush made the remarks at the White House following a meeting with top military advisers.Gunmen assassinated the director of the governor's office in the central town of Tikrit, Hatem Fewzi, and his bodyguard Wednesday evening, police Lt. Col. Jelal Khelil said.A U.S. soldier was killed and another wounded by a roadside bomb in the town of Safwan on Iraq's border with Kuwait on Wednesday, the military said. It also announced that a Marine near the western city of Fallujah was killed by non-hostile gunfire Monday. The deaths brought to 1,920 the number of U.S. troops who have died since the Iraq war began in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.The town of Baqouba suffered its second suicide car bomb in two days. An attacker slammed his vehicle into a police patrol in central Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing one person and wounding 14, included 10 policemen, said Dr. Ahmed Mohammed at Baqouba General Hospital. On Tuesday, a bomber strapped with explosives blew himself up at a police recruitment center in Baqouba, killing nine Iraqis.Army Pfc. Lynndie England, who posed for some of the most infamous pictures of detainee abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, was sentenced to three years behind bars. A jury of five Army officers needed about 90 minutes Tuesday to determine their sentence for England, the most recognizable of the nine low-ranking reservists charged in the scandal. Iraqi police on Tuesday found the corpses of 22 Iraqi men who had been shot to death in southern Iraq. The victims, all dressed in civilian clothes, had been shot in the head and dumped in a deserted area of Badrah district northeast of Kut city and 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, said Maj. Felah Al-Mohammedawi of Iraq's Interior Ministry.
The female suicide bomber was wearing a traditional white "dishdasha" robe and a checkered kaffiya headscarf, both worn only by men, to blend in with the line of Iraqi applicants waiting at an army recruitment center in Tal Afar, Maj. Jamil Mohammed Saleh said.
She then detonated explosives packed with metal balls and hidden under her clothes, Saleh said. Six recruits were killed and 35 wounded, said hospital officials in Tal Afar, 260 miles northwest of Baghdad.
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