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U.S. agencies warn of female suicide bombers

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  • Security agencies warn U.S. police departments about new tactics
  • Women increasingly being used in bombings overseas, document says
  • No imminent threat of such an attack seen in United States
  • Women may gain access to targets more easily, advisory says
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Terrorists increasingly favor using women as suicide bombers to thwart security and draw attention to their causes, a new FBI-Department of Homeland Security assessment concludes.

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Female suicide bombers can use devices to make them appear pregnant, a security assessment says.

The assessment said the agencies "have no specific, credible intelligence indicating that terrorist organizations intend to utilize female suicide bombers against targets in the homeland."

But it points out that women have been reported as attackers in the Russian breakaway republic of Chechnya and in India, Iraq, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

The notice was distributed Monday to law enforcement officials throughout the United States, and CNN obtained a copy of it.

Officials want to make sure security officers are alert to the possibility of female bombers and to familiarize themselves with behavior patterns that such attackers have used in the past.

"Even as military and security forces are paying more attention to the use of female operatives, terrorists are adapting their suicide attack tactics to compensate for enhanced security measures," the advisory said. Video Watch how U.S. authorities profile terror suspects »

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The assessment highlighted the February 1 bombings in Baghdad in which two women, who appeared to have Down syndrome, attacked two pet markets.

The attacks forced FBI and DHS officials to rethink a belief that those responsible for such incidents had the mental discipline "to accomplish the operation."

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The two agencies also echo what experts have said before -- that "female suicide bombers may have an advantage over their male counterparts in accessing targets."

For example, the assessment points out women can hide explosives in prosthetic devices that mimic the look of pregnancy. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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