Kids used to lure Iraqi troops
Baghdad - Gunmen burst into a house north of Baghdad early on Wednesday, killed three people and then sent the surviving children to lure over soldiers from a nearby Iraqi army checkpoint, killing eight.
The pre-dawn incident in the volatile Diyala province underlines the unrelenting dangers that members of Iraq's security forces still face as American troops prepare to reduce their numbers by the end of the month and end all combat operations.
It also shows the constantly evolving and sophisticated tactics of insurgents that American and Iraqi officials say have been seriously debilitated since the deaths of their top leaders last spring.
The town's mayor, Sheik Ahmed Al-Zarqushi, told The Associated Press that gunmen broke into the house at about 01:00 in the town of Sadiyah, 95km north of Baghdad and killed a man and two women inside. They then sent the two children to a nearby Iraqi army checkpoint to tell the soldiers about their parents' bodies.
"When the Iraqi army forces arrived and broke into the house, the house blew up, killing eight soldiers and wounding four others," he said.
The mayor, who said he met with the children after the incident, gave their ages as 12 and 10, and said they're now staying with their relatives.
Al-Zarqushi said security forces have arrested several suspects after the attack. Groups linked to al-Qaeda are very active in the area, he said.
The gunmen escaped through the back door and climbed over a fence before the soldiers arrived on the scene, said an official with the Diyala operations command. He said authorities have sealed the area and have been searching for suspects.
The death toll and account was confirmed by Qais Ahmed, from the Iraqi army in Sadiyah.
Blowing up houses is one of the newer types of attack in Iraq that security officials have blamed on al-Qaeda-linked groups.
Such incidents have been used most in the western province of Anbar where al-Qaeda has been particularly vicious in its attempt to seek retribution and intimidate members of the anti-al-Qaeda Awakening Councils as well as security forces.
On August 2, gunmen blew up the house of a policeman in Fallujah, killing the policeman, his wife and son.
In early July, gunmen blew up five houses in different parts of the Sunni district of Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, belonging to a policeman, an ambulance driver and members of an Awakening Council. Three people were killed.
The ongoing attacks against Iraq's security forces come as the US is moving to reduce its troop levels to 50 000 by the end of August. The remaining troops are expected to leave by the end of 2011, and after August 31 will no longer be doing combat operations.