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Tuesday, March 4, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

Coalition rolls up 100-woman suicide cell in raid of Iraq safe house

BAGHDAD — Iraq has captured an Al Qaida-aligned cell that recruited and deployed women for suicide operations.

On March 1, Iraqi and U.S. troops raided a suspected Al Qaida safe house in Al Makhesa, in northeastern Diyala. Officials said scores of suspected women operatives recruited as suicide bombers were arrested.

The women suicide cell was said to have consisted of 100 operatives. Officials said Al Qaida has increased its use of women for suicide operations.

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The women cell was said to have operated in the Diyala province. Officials said some of the women were recruited by their husbands for suicide operations against Iraqi and U.S. forces.

The U.S. military also detained the commander of the women suicide cell. Officials said the male commander was based in Ghalibiya in western Diyala.

U.S. military commander Gen. David Petraeus reported a slight increase in suicide-vest attacks in Iraq. He said the suicide vests were being handed to women, regarded as being more capable of reaching their targets than car bombs.

"We are going after Al Qaida relentlessly wherever they are, and wherever we can find them, we put our teeth into their jugular," Petraeus said on March 2.

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