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Taliban's use of female suicide bombers may complicate security efforts in 'conservative' Pakistan

August 12, 2011 - Lahore

The use of females in suicide bomb blasts is a sign of militants' desperation to carry out high-level attacks in Pakistan, and this may also complicate security efforts as officials have been reluctant to search women.

Two bombings- including one carried out by a female suicide bomber- claimed at least seven lives in Peshawar on Thursday. The incident is believed to be only the third time a woman has been used as a suicide bomber in Pakistan.

Security experts believe the Taliban is facing internal strife, and that the use of female suicide bombers could be a signal that Taliban efforts inside Pakistan are weakening, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

According to Raza Rumi, a Pakistani columnist, the Pakistani Taliban are on the defensive as they battle the Pakistan military on several fronts. The Pakistan Army is currently engaged in major operations against Taliban militants in Kurram, Mohmand, and South Waziristan tribal agencies.

Security experts also believe the group is facing internal strife, and has been forced to shift its base of operations from North Waziristan to Orakzai after being forced out of their former stronghold by tribal leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur, an ally of the Pakistani military.

Analysts also raise concern over the fact that use of women suicide bombers by the Pakistani Taliban could complicate security efforts in the country.

"It's generally men who are stopped at all the checkpoints, so now they're using women and children," Rumi said.

Ayesha Siddiqa, an expert on the Pakistani military, says that conservative sensibilities in Pakistan make it difficult for security officials to stop and search women.

"In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa it becomes difficult. You need to raise a big force of women police and train them [to carry out the checks]. Short and medium term there is no solution," she pointed out.


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