Insurgents bombed a house belonging to two policemen and their families in central Iraq early on Thursday, killing 10 people inside in the latest brazen attack since the U.S. troop withdrawal, officials said.
The house where the two policemen brothers lived was located in the Hamia area, about 31 miles (50 kilometers) south of Baghdad, a police officer said. It was leveled when insurgents detonated bombs they had planted around it at 1:00 a.m.
Both policemen, two children under one years of age and four women were among the dead, he added. A doctor at a nearby hospital confirmed the causality figure. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
Also Thursday, a motorcycle bomb missed a passing police patrol in the northern city of Kirkuk, but killed two civilians and wounded five others, the city's police commander Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qadir said.
Many Iraqis fear Iraqi security forces will not be able to protect the country on their own after the American pullout, and that it risks descending into chaos resembling the years following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Since the U.S. completed its pullout last month, militant groups _ mainly al-Qaida in Iraq _ have stepped up attacks on the country's majority Shiites and American-backed government institutions. More than 170 people have been killed in violence since the beginning of the year.
In an audio message aired on Wednesday, a spokesman for al-Qaida's Islamic State of Iraq who identified himself as Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said that even as the U.S. troops left Iraq, "our army still exists and is increasing day after the other."
Al-Qaida was one of the main U.S. enemies in Iraq. It was behind some of the deadliest attacks on U.S. soldiers, Iraqi security forces and American-backed government institutions.
Al-Adnani claimed the U.S. pulled its troops out of Iraq because its economy is collapsing and it needed to save money. Meanwhile, he said his holy warriors, or the "mujahedeen have the lead " and can "attack and appear whenever we want to."
Associated Press writer Yahya Barzanji in Sulaimaniyah contributed to this report.