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Afghan woman in burqa held with arms

Asadabad (Afghanistan), Dec. 24 (Reuters): A woman carrying a waistcoat filled with explosives under her all-enveloping burqa was arrested today in eastern Afghanistan, provincial officials said.

They said that this could be the first possible reported case of a female suicide bomber in the country.

She was arrested on a tip-off in Jalalabad after being followed by intelligence department officials near the border with Pakistan.

The elderly woman’s identity was not given, but she was now being questioned, officials said. It was not immediately clear if the woman wanted to use the explosives herself or was carrying the bomb to deliver it.

If the former, she would be the first reported female suicide bomber in Afghanistan where hundreds of people, many of them civilians, have been killed this year alone in such attacks.

Despite the overthrow in 2001 of the Taliban — who forced women to wear the all enveloping burqa whenever outdoors — most women still wear it. Security checkpoints in Afghanistan are usually manned only by men who are not supposed to check women for fear of offending their modesty.

Afghanistan has seen steady rise in violence in the past two years. Two civilians were killed, after they tried to retrieve the bodies of two men who were beheaded by suspected Taliban militants.

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