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August 7, 2009

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Teenage girl jailed for Iraq suicide bomb bid

A TEENAGE Iraqi girl who claimed her husband's female relatives strapped explosives on her has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for attempting to blow herself up at a checkpoint in northeastern Iraq, a provincial judge said yesterday.

The sentence comes amid a rising number of female suicide bombers in Iraq, which has prompted US and Iraqi forces to step up efforts to train more female police to search women for explosives.

Rania Ibrahim was sentenced on Sunday in a juvenile court for the attempted attack on Iraqi security forces near Baqouba in August 2008, said Diyala provincial Judge Zaid Khalaf.

At the time, there were conflicting accounts surrounding her arrest.

US officials said the 15-year-old turned herself in after being hooked up to the explosives against her will. Iraqi police said she was caught by a patrol after arousing suspicion while walking in downtown Baqouba.

After her arrest, a videotape of Ibrahim's confession, made in the presence of reporters, was released to media.

In the first part of the video, Ibrahim is seen standing in a street, both hands cuffed to a metal grid attached to a wall behind her. A police officer is later heard saying she apparently had been drugged. Another officer opens her robe, and shouts out to his colleagues, apparently to confirm he spotted a vest.

Police later said the vest was packed with 33 pounds of explosives. A police photo showed it had six compartments, including two stuffed with what looked like tubes and four holding packages covered in cling-wrap.

In the second part of the videotape, where reporters were present, Ibrahim first said she did not know the women who gave her the vest, saying they were strangers. But later, she said the explosives were strapped to her by female relatives of her husband. She said she was shown the vest's two detonators and told how to use them. Throughout her trial, Ibrahim stuck by the story that the two women put the vest on her, a police spokesman said.


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