BAGHDAD — Iraqi soldiers spotted a suspicious-looking woman Sunday in an upscale neighborhood of Baghdad and fired at her after seeing wires in her hands. The woman, dressed in a traditional abaya, was carrying explosives that blew up as she staggered into a nearby electronics shop.
Iraqi police said three people were killed in addition to the bomber and eight injured in the blast in Karada. The U.S. military, however, said the only fatality was the bomber. The difference in casualty figures could not immediately be reconciled.
There have been at least seven female suicide bombers in Iraq since November, in addition to two attempted attacks by women that were foiled.
U.S. military officials say the use of women is a sign of desperation by insurgents, who find it harder to get men past the tighter security imposed since the launch of a U.S.-Iraqi crackdown in early 2007.
A year ago, the country averaged 205 attacks a day and Baghdad 28 per day, military spokesman Navy Rear Adm. Greg Smith said Sunday. Now there are about 82 attacks a day across Iraq, and about 11 a day in Baghdad, he said.
Smith said violence in the capital was down 76% from its worst level in June last year.
Also Sunday, the military announced the deaths of two U.S. soldiers in northern Diyala province. A statement said they were shot to death Saturday.
At least 3,963 American troops have died in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, according to the independent website icasualties.org.