BAGHDAD – The Iraqi Interior Ministry ordered police on Tuesday to begin rounding up beggars, homeless and mentally disabled people from the streets of Baghdad and other cities to prevent insurgents from using them as suicide bombers. The decision, which elicited concern from advocates for the mentally disabled, came nearly three weeks after twin suicide bombings against pet markets. Officials said those blasts were carried out by mentally disabled women who may have been unwitting attackers. The U.S. military and the Iraqi government have claimed that Sunni insurgents led by al-Qaida in Iraq are increasingly trying to use Iraq’s most vulnerable populations as suicide bombers to avoid raising suspicions or being searched at checkpoints that guard access to many markets, neighborhoods and bridges in the capital. The people detained in the Baghdad sweep will be handed over to social welfare institutions and psychiatric hospitals that can provide shelter and care for them, Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said. “This will be implemented nationwide starting today,” Khalaf told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “Militant groups, like al-Qaida in Iraq, have started exploiting these people in the worst way to kill innocent victims because they do not raise… Read full this story
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