Iraqi Police said children had been used as decoys in a weekend car bombing in which the driver gained permission to park in a busy Shiite shopping area after he pointed out he was leaving his children in the back seat.
The bomb was exploded with the children still in the car, police said, perhaps signaling a new tactic by insurgents who are seeking to foment all-out civil war between Shiites and Sunnis.
A police commander in north Baghdad's Shaab neighborhood speculated the youngsters were kidnap victims. He and other police officers who reported the incident spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to release the information to reporters.
The accounts appeared to confirm one given Tuesday in Washington by Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, deputy director for regional operations on the Joint Staff.
Barbero said a car used in a Sunday bombing had been waved through a U.S. checkpoint because soldiers saw youngsters in the back. He called it a brutal tactic by insurgents seeking to battle the security crackdown in Baghdad.