Bombers planted among civil­ians

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Susannah Ge­orge and An­drea Rosa

MO­SUL, IRAQ» With the fight for Mo­sul in its fi­nal stage Mon­day, Is­lamic State mil­i­tants sent fe­male sui­cide bombers hid­den among flee­ing civil­ians, while Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coali­tion un­leashed pun­ish­ing airstrikes and ar­tillery fire that set dozens of build­ings ablaze.

At least one Iraqi sol­dier was killed and five were wounded in the two sep­a­rate sui­cide at­tacks, the mil­i­tary said. On Sun­day, a bomber in women’s cloth­ing killed 14 peo­ple at a camp for dis­placed res­i­dents in the prov­ince of An­bar, a pro­vin­cial of­fi­cial said. No group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack.

“These tac­tics don’t sur­prise me,” said Sgt. Ahmed Fadil, who pa­trolled Mo­sul’s Old City just 50 yards from the front.

The mil­i­tants “have nowhere to go. They’re trapped,” he said.

Mon­day’s two sui­cide bomb­ings against Iraqi sol­diers fol­lowed three other such at­tacks by women — some of them teenagers — in the pre­vi­ous two days, said Sgt. Ali Ab­dul­lah Hus­sein.

A sol­dier dis­played the school ID card re­trieved from the body of one of the bombers, show­ing her to be only 15. The photo was of a se­ri­ous young woman in a white hi­jab and in­di­cated she had stud­ied in Bangladesh.

“Most of the peo­ple who blew them­selves up to­day are women,” said spe­cial forces Lt. Col. Salam Hus­sein. He added that seven women strapped with ex­plo­sives ap­proached the troops Mon­day, “but, thank God, our units stopped (them).”

Gov­ern­ment troops ad­vanc­ing through the Old City were us­ing rougher tac­tics to clear the re­main­ing pock­ets of Is­lamic State forces.

The tempo of airstrikes was so great Mon­day that coali­tion air­craft couldn’t keep up with the re­quests for air sup­port from Iraqi ground forces. In­stead, they sought ap­proval for ar­tillery strikes.

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