WASHINGTON - A U.S. general said yesterday that Iraqi terrorists used children in a suicide attack over the weekend, raising worries that the insurgency has adopted a monstrous new tactic to get through security checkpoints with bombs.
Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, deputy director for regional operations in the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, said adults in a vehicle with two children in the back seat were allowed through a Baghdad checkpoint Sunday.
The adults then parked next to a market in the Adamiya area of Baghdad, abandoned the vehicle and detonated it with the children still inside, according to the general and another official.
"Children in the back seat, lower suspicion, we let it move through," Barbero said. "They parked the vehicle, the adults run out and detonate it with the children in the back. The brutality and ruthless nature of this enemy hasn't changed."
The attack killed five, including the children, and wounded seven, a defense official said.
The general called it a new tactic, but noted U.S. forces had only seen one such occurrence involving children.
The use of chemical bombings has increased and become a tool of the insurgency, as the three chlorine bombs detonated this past weekend brought the total to six such bombings since January, the general said.
"High-profile" suicide and car-bomb attacks by Sunnis against Shiites also have not abated, Barbero said.
But he said increased force in Iraq's capital had yielded some success, such as a reduction in murders and executions of civilians.
He also said hundreds of families have returned to Baghdad and the number of tips from Iraqi civilians about insurgent activity hit its highest mark ever in February.
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