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3 women held in Iraq suicide bomb plots

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  • NEW: Parliament adjourns without passing elections law
  • Three women arrested during military offensive in Diyala province, north of Baghdad
  • Two tested positive for explosives residue, one had explosives in home, official says
  • Women have carried out nearly two dozen suicide bombings in 2008, U.S. says
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From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi security forces arrested three women, accusing them of plotting suicide bombings against the country's armed forces, the Interior Ministry spokesman told CNN on Wednesday.

Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf said the women were arrested last week as part of the military offensive in Diyala province, the territory that sprawls north and east of Baghdad.

Khalaf said two of the women "tested positive for explosives residue" and explosives were found in another woman's house. He did not say precisely where or when they were seized. He said the women confessed to planning attacks.

Women are increasingly carrying out suicide attacks in Iraq. Male security forces will not search women and few women have been trained to conduct searches.

Up to 24 suicide attacks in Iraq have been commited by female bombers in 2008 -- up from eight in 2007 -- according to U.S. military figures.

The military offensive in Diyala, called "Omens of Prosperity," began in the provincial capital, Baquba, where security forces have imposed a curfew and are encircling the city.

In addition to recent suicide bombings in Diyala, two central Baghdad roadside bombings on Wednesday wounded six people, according to the Interior Ministry.

The U.S. military said troops targeting al Qaeda in Iraq in the central and northern parts of the country on Wednesday detained three wanted men and several other people.

Meanwhile, Iraq's parliament adjourned for a monthlong break before adopting an important provincial elections law.

Sunni lawmaker Saleem Abdullah, who confirmed the development to CNN, said parliament will reconvene on September 9 and a committee has been formed to continue negotiations over the legislation.

Parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani told reporters an urgent session would be convened during the hiatus if the committee reached an agreement on the legislation.

Officials were hoping that provincial elections could be held this autumn, but the delay in approving the legislation means that voting might not be held before the year is out.

The United States and Iraq's government regard the local elections as an essential step in developing democracy and promoting national reconciliation.

One person was killed and 11, including an Iraqi solider, were wounded when a car carrying a suicide bomber exploded in central Mosul on Wednesday, an Interior Ministry official told CNN.

The explosion targeted an Iraqi army patrol in the city's al-Dawasa district, the official said. Mosul is about 260 miles (420 km) north of Baghdad.

In other Iraq news Wednesday:

• A gunmen ambushed an Awakening Council checkpoint in northeastern Baghdad, killing three council members and wounding two around 9 p.m. Wednesday, the ministry official said.

Awakening Councils, whose members are predominantly Sunni, have been recruited by the U.S. military to work against al Qaeda in Iraq and other militias.

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