Police said Wednesday that children were used in a weekend car bombing in which the driver gained permission to park in a busy shopping area after he pointed out that he was leaving his children in the back seat.
The account appeared to confirm one given Tuesday by a US general. He said children were used in a Sunday bombing in northern Baghdad and labeled it a brutal new tactic put to use by insurgents to battle a five-week-old security crackdown in the capital.
Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, deputy director for regional operations on the Joint Staff, said the vehicle used in the attack was waved through a US military checkpoint because two children were visible in the back seat. He said it was the first reported use of children in a car bombing in Baghdad.
"Children in the back seat lowered suspicion, [so] we let it move through, they parked the vehicle, the adults run out and detonate it with the children in the back," Barbero told reporters in Washington. "The brutality and ruthless nature of this enemy hasn't changed."
Other US officials said later that three Iraqi bystanders were killed in the attack near a marketplace in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Azamiyah, besides the two children, and seven people were injured. The officials had no other details, including the estimated ages of the children.
Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a US military spokesman in Baghdad, confirmed Barbero's account but said he couldn't provide more details.
Two policemen, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns, said the general was referring to a car bomb Sunday that killed eight Iraqis and wounded 28 others in the predominantly Shi'ite district of Shaab. The attack targeted people cooking food at open-air grills in the street as part of a Shi'ite Muslim holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad's death.
The reports could not be independently confirmed, and key details were missing from the police accounts, such as the ages and genders of the children, whether they were among the victims, and what happened to their bodies.