A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged belt at a gathering of his own family in western Iraq, killing his pro-government cousin and six other relatives, officials said today.
The blast targeting a leader in the Sahwa militias in the city of Ramadi is a reminder of how extremism still divides Iraq’s Sunni Muslim minority, with some working with al-Qaida-linked insurgents against others who support the Shiite-led government.
The killing is part of a surge in violence six months after the last American troops withdrew.
The bomber entered the home of his cousin, the local Sahwa leader, on Friday night as the extended family was gathered for a meal, said a police official in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, 70 miles west of Baghdad.
He approached the militiaman and detonated his explosives, killing his target as well as his wife, three of their teenage children, his brother and another relative, said the official.
Anbar is the province where Sunni tribes first revolted against al-Qaida in late 2006 and 2007, joining US troops to fight the insurgency.