Today's brutal murder of the headmistress of an all-girls high school in northwest Baghdad is sparking new fears that women are again being targeted by religious extremists in Iraq.
Police found the body of Suad Kokaz, head of the Amil High School for Girls, outside her home in the relatively safe Shiite area of Kadhimiyah. She was ambushed by gunmen after leaving her home for work, according to police.
The murder is the second in as many weeks of a Baghdad schoolteacher. Last week authorities found the body of a woman teacher not far from her school in the Al-Saydiyah area in southeast Baghdad. Both killings are raising concerns among law enforcement officials that extremists are stepping up attacks against women.
Police in the southern city of Basra report a sharp increase in attacks on women, with more than 40 killed between July and September, according to Maj. Gen. Abdul Jalil Khalaf, Basra's chief of police.
Khalaf told ABC News that dozens of women are threatened and intimidated each month, mostly by self-styled enforcers of religious law who target females who wear Western clothes or appear in public without head scarves. Khalaf, who was sent to Basra earlier this year by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to impose order in the city, says police are often too scared to conduct proper investigations into the killings.
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