Monday, December 27, 2010

Woman Suicide Bombers - A new challenge to Pakistani security forces

WFP Distribution Centre near Bajaura
In a letter to Marie Bonaparte, Sigmund Freud states that "The great question...which I have not been able to answer, despite my thirty years research to the feminine soul is 'What does a woman want?'"

The recent explosion in Bajaura, North-West Pakistan which killed at least 46 people raises new questions before the security forces. This suicide attack was carried out by a woman aged between 18-22, covered in a burqa head to foot. The prime target of the suicide attack was a UN food distribution centre which distributes food items in Bajaura, Af-Pak border. After the blast UN aid agency closed the centres that fed 41,000 families.

What ever be the reason for the emergence of women as suicide bombers (This may be the third suicide attack carried out by women suicide bombers in Pakistan, first one was in Karachi on November 2000 and second one was in Peshawar in 2007) this new phenomenon will be difficult for the security forces. Especially where majority of the woman are using burqa and the number women officers who trained in dealing with explosives are very low in number. Moreover searching woman may prove to be a very sensitive matter in the tribal societies of Af-Pak border.

People injured in the blast
Earlier some Islamic groups in Middle-East and LTTE in Srilanka used women as suicide bombers but this trend is new in Pakistan. According to Dawn Reports "Sources said that Taliban leaders Maulana Faqir Mohammad and Maulvi Mohammad Omar had warned time and again that they had women, who were willing to blow themselves up.

“Maulana Faqir was making announcements on FM radio warning of involving female in suicide missions,” said a resident of Bajaur. He said that local authorities had received intelligence reports that militants might carry out attack in the area.
Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq, who claimed responsibility for the attack in Bajaur, though did not verify involvement of female suicide bomber, yet he claimed that they had dozens of trained women, who were ready to lay down their lives."

In this new scenario it be more difficult for the security establishment to identify a normal woman from a bomber when they are in full burqa. As the stakes are high one quick remedy may be to hire and train women officers in counter-terrorism, explosives and focus on intelligence gathering.
As it is possible that these terrorists may employ similar tactics in the sensitive areas of Kashmir and other parts of India, it is important for the Indian security forces to train more women officers in explosives and counter-terrorism. More women officers in police and paramilitary will help the security establishment to deal more easily with the women population. It's also important for government to work hard on saving woman and teenagers from becoming would be suicide bombers...


Photo courtesy to The Telegraph, MSNBC

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