Tuesday 26 August 2008 (25 Sha`ban 1429)

                  Iraqi girl caught with bomb vest

                        DEADLY MOVE: In this photo released by the Iraqi police 
on Monday, policemen appear to search a girl who they suspected of being a 
suicide bomber, seen handcuffed to railings in a street in Baquba on Sunday. 
                  BAGHDAD: Iraqi police presented a teenage girl caught wearing 
an explosives vest to reporters, prodding her in a video released yesterday to 
confess to plans to stage a suicide bombing. The girl appeared confused, but 
denied the allegation, saying that she never intended to carry out the attack 
and wanted to remove the vest.

                  Still, her arrest Sunday heightened concern about a rise in 
suicide bombings by women in Iraq. The number of women bombers has more than 
tripled this year, from eight in 2007 to 29 this year, according to US military 
officials. The circumstances of the girl's arrest remained unclear.

                  US officials said she had turned herself in, while local 
police said she was caught after arousing suspicion. Reporters were invited to 
attend her questioning late Sunday, and a video made by the authorities of her 
arrest and interrogation was made public the following day.

                  The girl gave her first name as Rania and said she was born 
in 1993. Her exchange with the police offered a rare glimpse at a teenager 
allegedly recruited by insurgents. However, it was not clear to what extent her 
answers were given out of fear and influenced by the presence of journalists.

                  The girl was arrested Sunday in the city of Baquba, capital 
of the volatile Diyala province and an Al-Qaeda in Iraq stronghold. Diyala has 
seen some of the most violence in Iraq, even as the rest of the country 
witnessed a significant drop in attacks.

                  An Iraqi police officer said the girl's family was known for 
supporting Al-Qaeda in Iraq and that her father had carried out a suicide 
bombing. The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not 
authorized to release the information, also said a relative is suspected of 
having recruited her.

                  The officer said the girl led the police back to where she 
was given the explosives and that they found a second bomb belt in an empty 
apartment in the Baquba area. He also said the girl's mother and sister were 

                  The police footage of the girl's arrest Sunday begins with 
her standing on a Baquba street, next to a metal structure. Her arms are behind 
her back, apparently tied to the structure, as police surround her. Later, a 
policeman is shown opening her robe, and subsequent frames show her wearing 
what appears to be the suicide vest.

                  Police later said the vest contained about 15 kilograms of 
explosives. The girl is then shown standing in a room, wrapped in a black 
cloak, her hair disheveled and surrounded by police officers. She insists she 
doesn't know the women who gave her the vest.

                  "I swear to Allah that I do not know them. They were 
strangers," she is heard saying, though she later says that "one of the women's 
names was maybe Fadhila and the other was called Widad." When pressed to say 
whether she knew the woman who put the vest on her, she replied: "Yes."

                  Police asked if she intended to blow herself up. "No, no, 
they put it on me and told me to take it off at home," she said. "They did not 
tell me to explode myself." A policeman standing next to her could be heard 
saying that when she was picked up, she was initially unable to talk because 
she had been given drugs.

                  In other developments yesterday, a local Sunni official said 
that a clan targeted in a suicide attack the previous day that killed 25 people 
on Baghdad's outskirts had been split among Al-Qaeda supporters and fighters 
who abandoned the insurgents and are now backed by the US



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