Pakistan frets over burqa bombers (Lead)

August 13th, 2011 - 2:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, Aug 13 (IANS) Burqa-clad women suicide bombers in Pakistan have posed a potent threat to the country as it grapples to deal with the Taliban.

This has been vindicated by two recent attacks on the security forces that appear to have rudely awakened the authorities to the new Taliban tactic.

Thursday’s attack on a security checkpost in Peshawar by women suicide bombers was the second such attack in less than two months. The previous attack was in Bajaur June 26.

The Bajaur attack too targeted a checkpost. The bombing by the husband-wife duo left 46 people dead and over 80 injured.

The involvement of women suicide bombers has posed a major security challenge in Pakistan with the Eid shopping in full swing. As shopping is primarily done by women, security agencies are yet to devise ways to identify burqa-clad bombers in the crowd, said a report in Daily Times Friday.

A senior police official overseeing the security measures in Lahore for Ramazan, said the government should get a decree from ulema to ask women to remove their burqas as a security measure before entering shopping malls meant for them, he said requesting anonymity.

He said it was required because there are few women police officers available, particularly during Eid when shopping malls are thronged by women, the Daily Times report said.

Traditionally, security forces in Pakistan are reluctant to search women due to cultural sensitivities, which may have helped the Taliban to use them in their operations.

The Peshawar attackers seem to have had no hurdle in getting close to the target, although a police cordon was put in place after another blast same day near the checkpost claimed the lives of five policemen.

In Bajaur, the attackers managed to get pass the security because of one them was a woman.

Another police official contended that Peshawar attack presented a new challenge for the security forces as male officers doesn’t search women.

“The attack does pose serious problems for security personnel, who will have to find ingenious ways to avert such bombings. We need to improve intelligence and gadgetry,” he said on condition of anonymity.

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