In recent weeks, Mosul residents have witnessed an unprecedented rise in the number of female corpses found throughout the city.

Alaa al-Badrani said her friend, a school principal, was kidnapped from her home in the Bakr district of the city by an armed gang.

Her body was found with her throat slit in a construction site in the same district.

Neighbours, who asked not to be named, told Aljazeera that the school principal had received threats on September 20 and was asked to pay "protection money".

One neighbour said: "But they didn't wait more than two hours before taking her.

"She was an outstanding woman and very religious so we do not know why this happened to her."

Revenge killings

But as attacks on Iraqi police and security forces continue unabated throughout Iraq, the families of officers and senior security officials are also coming under attack.

On September 28, despite the advent of Ramadan, Zuheira, a young housewife, was found dead with a bullet to the head in the Gogaly suburb, north east of the city.

Salim Zaho, a neighbour, said: "They couldn't kill her husband, a police officer, so they came for his wife instead … very tragic.

"None of our women are safe, we have to have bodyguards from the family be with them all the time."

A day later, a young woman, who police could not immediately identify, was found garrotted in the same sector of the city.

Earlier this week, a woman and her four-year-old daughter were kidnapped from their home in the eastern Saa district of the city. Her body was found a few hours later in an alley, her daughter alive and crying at her side.

'Sacrilegious' clothing

The increase in attacks on women has also been accompanied by a proportional increase in threats against clothiers and boutique shop owners, security officials have said.

In the Sarj Khanah district in Mosul, where many western fashion boutiques are located, shop owners have found threatening flyers and messages left on their doors.

One such flyer condemned "sacrilegious" clothing which it claimed corrupted young women with revealing clothes baring their shoulders and knees and called on all mannequins to be covered with proper Islamic garb.

The flyers included verses from the Quran as well as hadith (oral traditions of the Prophet Muhammed) followed by threats and a promise of death.

Abu Faris, a father of four girls and one boy, said he would not take any chances and have his daughters don the head covering veil as soon as they hit 10 years of age.

He said: "Mays, my oldest, is 14 and she has been veiled since she was about 12.

"Women who are not veiled risk attracting attention of some of the killers here."