Belgian police raid homes in probe of Iraq suicide bomber

Belgian police raided a number of homes early on Wednesday of people suspected of links to a woman thought to be the first European female suicide bomber in Iraq, the federal prosecutors office said.

"Searches have been carried in connection with an investigation into a Belgian woman who carried out a suicide attack in Iraq," said Leive Pellens, a spokesman for the prosecutors office. She declined to give more details.

She said that sweeps were underway in the capital Brussels, Antwerp to the north, Charleroi in the south and Tongres in the east. At least one person was detained in Brussels.

According to Belgian media, up to six people were killed in the suicide attack in the Baghdad region a few weeks ago. The woman is believed to have converted to Islam shortly after marrying a religous extremist.

Police are believed to have been watching the woman's family for some time but apparently speeded up their operation after information about her was revealed on French radio on Tuesday.

Pellens said the bomber was not previously known to police.

A man was also arrested in the Paris region in connection with the probe, sources close to the case said in the French capital. Two other people living with the man were detained.
The man is suspected of being "in contact with a cell" helping to send potential fighters or bombers to Iraq, where attacks on US troops and civilians are a daily occurrence almost two years after the war to oust Saddam Hussein.

The woman, who had married a Muslim, had travelled with him to Iraq. She was trying to blow up a US army convoy, but no soldiers were killed in the attack.

IC Publications (English)
De Standaard (Dutch)

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