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Iraqi official: Suicide bomber kills 22 near mourners

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  • NEW: Abu Ghraib suicide bomber hits group mourning educator's death
  • Educator's cousin is a senior police officer in Falluja
  • A female suicide bomber kills two at a checkpoint near Baghdad
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least 22 people were killed and 40 wounded in a suicide bombing Wednesday evening in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, an Interior Ministry official said.

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The U.S. military says women are being used more often in Iraqi suicide bombings.

The bomber detonated his explosives at a gathering of mourners in the predominantly Sunni city about 20 miles west of Baghdad.

Police in the nearby city of Falluja said the gathering was for the principal of a technical school in the village of Abu Minasir in Abu Ghraib. The principal was shot dead Monday.

The principal's cousin is a senior police officer in Falluja, and his brother is a leading member of the Sons of Iraq or Awakening, a movement of anti-al Qaeda Sunni groups in the area.

Police and Awakening members have been a target for al Qaeda in Iraq.

In a separate incident, a female suicide bomber attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint south of Baghdad and killed two Iraqi soldiers Wednesday, an Interior Ministry official said.

The official said the bomber detonated an explosive vest, killing an Iraqi commander and a soldier.

The U.S. military also confirmed the incident and said the attacker appeared to be in her late teens. It is the latest in a flurry of attacks carried out by female bombers.

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The Interior Ministry said four people were wounded.

The U.S. military reported one dead and seven wounded and said an Iraqi army battle position was struck.

"Small arms fire ensued for a brief period," the U.S. military said, adding that the incident occurred about 12 miles south of the capital.

The incident occurred as the U.S. military declared success in Operation Lion's Roar, an offensive in northern Iraq targeting Shiite militants.

About 14,000 Iraqi soldiers backed by U.S. troops participated in the offensive, which took place over the weekend in and around Mosul, the provincial capital of Nineveh and a hub for supporters of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Troops captured nearly 200 suspects, including 21 possible members of al Qaeda in Iraq, also known as the "Islamic State of Iraq," Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf said.

Khalaf said Lion's Roar was a preliminary security plan that set the stage for Operation Mother of Two Springs, which began Wednesday.

The current operation will also focus on insurgency in northern Iraq as part of a wider initiative targeting Shiite militants in the region.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was in Mosul on Wednesday to confer with commanders about the latest action.

Al-Maliki said forces will make all possible efforts to avoid harming civilians during the campaign.

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