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Attackers target anti-al Qaeda groups in Iraq

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: 10 killed when suicide car bomb slams into a checkpoint in Diyala province
  • NEW: Drive-by shooting leaves five dead near Baquba
  • Female suicide bomber kills 16 people northeast of Baghdad
  • Many victims are members of "awakening councils"|
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From Mohammed Tawfeeq
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Three attacks across Iraq killed at least 31 people Friday, many of them members of "awakening councils" -- anti-al Qaeda neighborhood watch groups that root out insurgents.

An Iraqi man weeps Friday at a Shiite shrine, hours after a female suicide bomber killed at least 16 people.

In the first attack, a female suicide bomber detonated her explosives in Muqdadiya, northeast of Baghdad, killing 16 people and wounding 31, an official with Iraq's Interior Ministry said.

More than half of the dead and wounded were awakening council members.

The suicide bomber was a former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, Gen. Mohammed Al-Tamimi of the local police said.

He identified her as a local woman named Suhaila Ali.

Hours later, in the same province of Diyala, a suicide car bomb slammed into a checkpoint manned by the Iraqi army and members of an awakening council, a Baquba police official said.

The attack, in the town of Mansouriya, killed 10 people, including seven Iraqi soldiers and three awakening council members, the official said.

In another incident, gunmen killed five members of an awakening council in a drive-by shooting in the northern Iraqi town of Rabia, an official with the Mosul police said.

The victims included a cousin of Fawaz al-Jarba, who heads the awakening council in the province, Nineveh.

The awakening councils are predominantly Sunni and sometimes are composed of former militants.

The attacks came a day after America's top military commander in Iraq reported violence was down significantly across the country -- 60 percent in the last six months -- but that he was not ready to celebrate.

Gen. David Petraeus told reporters at Baghdad's Camp Victory that the picture has improved in a number of areas, with progress against al Qaeda in Iraq, in thwarting militant attacks and through cooperation with local militias.

But he also sounded a cautionary note.

"There's nobody in uniform who's doing victory dances in the end zone," Petraeus said. "We see this as requiring a continued amount of tough work" in the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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