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Last Updated: Friday, 2 December 2005, 00:48 GMT
Belgian 'suicide bomber' is named
Undated file photograph of Muriel Degauque
Degauque is thought to have been Iraq's first female European bomber
Stunned Belgians are starting to get a clearer picture of the Belgian woman identified as a suicide bomber killed in Iraq last month.

La Derniere Heure newspaper published a photo of the woman it said was the bomber, and interviewed her mother.

The paper says she is Muriel Degauque, 38, from Charleroi, who converted to Islam after marrying a radical Muslim.

Federal prosecutors would not confirm the woman's identity, only that she was a Belgian of European origin.

But La Derniere Heure ran the headline: "This is our Belgian kamikaze killed in Iraq."


Degauque's mother Liliane told the paper that she knew her daughter had been involved before police told her she had carried out the attack in Baghdad on 9 November.

"The evening before, I was watching the television which was talking about a Belgian convert who had killed herself in Iraq. I had a bad feeling," Mrs Degauque told La Derniere Heure.

US Marines in Falluja
The bomber targeted US soldiers in Iraq

"For three weeks, I had tried to call her but there was no answer."

She said her daughter's interest in Islam started in 2000, and she became a devout Muslim after marrying a Moroccan.

"She became more Muslim than Muslim," said Mrs Degauque.

"When she first converted, she wore a simple veil. That was not so far from normal, even if it is strange for a Belgian. But with her last husband she wore a chador [Islamic dress covering women from head to toe]."

Her daughter - believed to be the first female European bomber in Iraq - later travelled through Syria to Iraq, where she died in a failed attack against US troops on 9 November, the paper said.

Surprise mission

A spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office, Eric Van Der Sypt, said the woman's husband had disappeared in Iraq, but could not confirm reports that he had died in a separate incident.

He said five people arrested on Wednesday were suspected of links to the bomber and had been charged with terrorism offences, including participating in terrorist activities and falsifying documents.

He said the fact that a Belgian woman had carried out a suicide mission in Iraq was a surprise, but it would have happened "sooner or later".

"But it could have been a French man or British woman," he said. "They are obviously recruiting. We know we have made arrests and stopped some networks, but who can tell for the future?"

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