An American soldier in a burqa
An American soldier in a burqa sparks a suicide-bomb panic in Kabul:
A female American soldier wearing a burqa over an ammunitions belt on a walk through a ladies-only bazaar in Kabul unwittingly sparked a security scare yesterday, when Afghan police mistook her for a potential suicide bomber.
“A woman entered the Women’s Garden and the security forces got suspicious because she was wearing an ammunitions belt under her burqa,” the capital’s police chief, General Baba Jan, said.
“After she was stopped and searched she was found with weapons.
Then she was identified as an American soldier working for the coalition forces.” Rumours flew through the Afghan capital, already jittery after the abduction of three UN workers and a suicide bomb attack last week, that a suicide bomber had been thwarted in the Women’s Garden, a cosmetics and lingerie bazaar set up in a city park for women only.
Peacekeepers from the International Security Assistance Force sent a team to investigate the reports.
“ISAF are on the site and are investigating a possible threat of a suicide bomber,” a spokesman for the multinational force said earlier yesterday.
Peacekeepers and Afghan police sealed all roads leading to the park, as security forces searched the woman. She was later escorted by police out of the park with a burqa, an all-enveloping garment worn by most Afghan women, still over her military uniform.
Foreigners in Kabul have been advised to keep a low profile and restrict their movements as they become increasingly targeted.
“After security incidents involving foreigners the American lady, who only recently arrived in Afghanistan, thought that by wearing a burqa, with her ammunition belt and uniform underneath, she would be safe to go anywhere she wants,” Jan said.
“She acknowledged that she had made a mistake using a burqa to get into the women’s garden. She wanted to go to the women’s market dressed in the traditional Afghan way and see the shops and buy things.” A spokesman for the US-led coalition said he was unaware of the incident.
“I don’t have any information on that,” US Major Mark McCann said.