Al-Qaeda on the ropes but still a danger
Evidently, they are once again using women as the bombers. This from the International Herald Tribune:
Female bombers struck Kurdish political protesters in Kirkuk and Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad on Monday morning, leaving at least 48 people dead and 249 wounded in one of the bloodiest sequences of attacks in Iraq this year.
The bombing in Kirkuk immediately set the city on edge. Many Kurds believed the city's ethnic Turkmen were behind the blast and retaliated by attacking Turkmen political parties. At least 24 people were killed and 187 wounded when a female suicide bomber blew herself up amid thousands of Kurdish demonstrators who had gathered near the provincial headquarters building, said Brigadier General Burhan Tayyib Taha of the Iraqi police in Kirkuk.
In the attacks in Baghdad, three women used suicide vests and a bomb in a bag to kill 24 people, all of them apparently Shiite pilgrims marching in a festival, according to an official at the Interior Ministry. The dead included at least four children, one of them an infant, and there were at least 62 other people wounded, according to police officials and witnesses.
The attacks up north in Kirkuk could have been the work of Turkmen who have been battling the Kurds and Arabs for control of the vital oil center. In fact, the Kurds didn't wait for anyone to claim responsibility and immediately attacked Turkmen targets in the city. But the use of females as suicide bombers is almost an exclusive al-Qaeda signature and it could very well be that AQ wanted to stir up trouble in Kirkuk among the ethnically diverse population.
The Baghdad attacks took place 5 minutes apart which has al-Qaeda written all over it. That and the fact that females again were used to detonate three separate bombs.
The problem for the security forces is cultural; searching women thoroughly just isn't done. I guess we can expect more female suicide bombers in the future until the security forces figure a way around this delicate problem. In the west, it is customary for a women to be searched by female officers but I believe there is a definite lack of female police officers in Iraq to take up that task.