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Female suicide bombers shatter Baghdad calm

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On this Friday, the first and deadliest attack occurred in the bustling open air Ghazil pet bazaar in the central market area of Shorja. It was carried out by a female suicide bomber dressed in an abaya - the traditional black head to toe cover worn by most Iraqi women in public over their clothing.

Iraqi security forces told the Associated Press that at least 46 people were killed and 100 wounded in the attack on Ghazil, which has been targeted several times before. In November, 15 people died in a bomb attack.

The second attack took place 20 minutes later at a bird market across from a cinema in the working class neighborhood of Baghdad Jadida, on the southeastern side of the capital. It killed at least 27 people, wounded 67, and also involved a female suicide bomber in traditional dress.

The Iraqi government-funded television station, Al-Iraqiya, reported only briefly on the attacks. It quoted the spokesman for the Baghdad security operations, Brig. Gen. Qassim Atta, as saying that the women were both mentally unstable and thereby not fully aware of what they were doing. He said they had been wired with explosives that were detonated remotely.

There was no immediate comment by the US military but Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, the incoming commander of US-led multinational forces in Baghdad, warned against precisely this type of event in a briefing with reporters on Tuesday. He expected that Al Qaeda-linked militants would try regaining the initiative by using high-profile and complex attacks.

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