Security experts believe the Taliban is facing internal strife, and the use of female suicide bombers could be a signal that Taliban efforts inside Pakistan are weakening.
Two bombings, including one carried out by a female suicide bomber, claimed at least seven lives in the Pakistani city of Peshawar on Thursday. The incident is believed to be only the third time a woman has been used as a suicide bomber in Pakistan.
Analysts say the use of women in suicide attacks is a sign of militants’ desperation to carry out high-level attacks as they face pressure from the Pakistan Army as well as internal strife. It could also complicate security efforts as officials have been reluctant to search women.
“It’s generally men who are stopped at all the checkpoints, so now they’re using women and children,” says Raza Rumi, a Pakistani columnist.
The first of the attacks took place when a remote-controlled bomb exploded near a police vehicle, according to media reports.
Some hours later, a teenage female suicide bomber blew herself up near the first site.
"This was a female suicide bomber aged around 17 or 18 who threw a hand grenade on the police check post, about 20 meters away from the site of the first blast, and then blew herself up," police official Shafqat Malik told the AFP.
The Taliban have not yet claimed responsibility, but are widely believed to be behind the attack.
The incident, which was the first bombing in the Taliban-afflicted province since the Islamic holy month of Ramadan began, marks only the third instance of a female suicide bomber in Pakistan ever.