Female suicide bomber kills 40 in Pakistan
A woman covered in a head-to-foot burqa carried out a suicide bombing that killed more than 40 people in Pakistan, government officials said last night.
The woman blew herself up amid a crowd of men, women and children heading towards a food distribution centre of the World Food Programme in the Bajaur region on the Afghan border on Christmas Day.
"Initially there was confusion as to whether the attacker was a man or woman but now we have established that (it) was a woman," senior government official Sohail Ahmed said.
Government officials in Bajaur said they had recovered the head, burqa and clothes of the bomber.
It was the second such attack by a female militant in Pakistan. In the first episode, a woman detonated explosives near a military checkpoint in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2007, but she killed no one except herself.
On Saturday, the woman initially threw hand grenades at people heading toward the food centre to receive aid, before blowing herself up. Forty-three people were killed and more than 60 were wounded in the attack.
"If militants use more women for such attacks then it is going to be a very huge problem for the security forces," said Rahimullah Yusufzai, an expert on tribal and militant affairs.
"They don't have enough women (in the) police force and even (if) they have policewomen, because of our conservative culture, people don't want their women to be subjected to body searches. It's going to be a big problem."
The attack happened a day after battles between security forces and insurgents in the neighbouring Mohmand region that killed 11 soldiers and 40 insurgents, the government said.
Militants disputed the official death toll.