( AP ) - Carloads of attackers descended on a police chief's house northeast of Baghdad at dawn Friday, killing the official's wife, two brothers and 11 guards, and kidnapping three of his grown children, Diyala provincial police reported.
The attack, which came when the police chief was not at home, was one of the boldest and bloodiest in months of stepped-up violence around the city of Baqouba, where al-Qaida in Iraq and affiliated groups have been fighting U.S. and Iraqi forces and local insurgents who have turned against al-Qaida.
Elsewhere in northern Iraq, two suicide bombers struck a Shiite mosque and a nearby police station near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, and more than 25 people were killed or wounded, police said.
The simultaneous suicide explosions occurred about 2 p.m. in the predominantly Shiite town of Dakok, about 28 miles south of Kirkuk, police Brig. Gen. Burhan Taieb Taha said.
He gave the casualty toll as more than 25 people but said he could not immediately provide a breakdown of how many were killed and how many were wounded amid the chaos.
The two men detonated their explosives vests near a Shiite mosque as Friday prayers were being held, as well as a nearby police station, Taha said.
Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, is the center of Iraq's northern oil fields.
Ethnic tensions have risen in the area as Kurds seek to incorporate the city into their self-governing region in northern Iraq. They won a major concession in March when they pressured the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki into approving plans to move thousands of Arabs out of Kirkuk and resettle them elsewhere.
In southern Iraq on Friday morning, a parked minibus exploded at a bus terminal in the town of Qurnah, and a hospital director said at least 16 people were killed and 32 wounded.
The continuing violence came a day after the four-year U.S. military death toll in Iraq passed the 3,500 mark, after a soldier was reported killed in a roadside bombing in Baghdad.
The U.S. fatality rate has risen as reinforced troops have gone more on the offensive against insurgents in Baghdad and surrounding areas, such as Diyala, in a new security crackdown aimed at restoring more order to central Iraq.
Despite that campaign, Iraq's bombings, shootings, mortar attacks and execution-style killings left at least 63 Iraqis dead nationwide Thursday. They included 32 unidentified men who were handcuffed, blindfolded and shot to death in Baghdad - apparent victims of so-called sectarian death squads usually run by Shiite militias, such as the Mahdi Army.
Diyala provincial police said the dawn attackers outside Baqouba, who arrived in "many cars," also abducted two sons and a daughter of police chief Col. Ali Dilayan al-Jorani, head of central Baqouba's Balda police station. The children were described as young men and a young woman, but their ages weren't immediately available.
Al-Jorani's two slain brothers were serving as guards at the house, in Kanaan town northwest of the city of Baqouba, which is 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.
The bodies of some guards, many of whom were also al-Jorani relatives, were found on a nearby road, apparently after being seized at the house, police said.
A witness to the Qurnah bombing, taxi driver Salim Abdul-Hussein, 35, said the blast damaged the bus terminal and many cars and surrounding shops, striking an area crowded each morning with farmers coming to town to shop and sell their produce and animals in Qurnah, 225 miles south of Baghdad.
Maj. Gen. Mohammed Hammadi, police chief in Basra, the provincial capital 60 miles to the south, said a minibus loaded with rockets, ammunition, C4 explosives and benzene blew up and caused a nearby car to explode in flames - leading to an early report of two car bombs.
Police cordoned off the area and arrested two Egyptian suspects, he said.
At Qurnah hospital, director Ali Qassim told The Associated Press by telephone the hospital had received 16 bodies from the explosions and 32 wounded.
In other violence, unknown gunmen speeding by in the northern city of Kirkuk shot and killed a soldier, Adnan Mahmoud, as he drove with his 2-year-old daughter around 6:30 a.m. Friday. The child also was killed, said police Capt. Jassim Abdullah.
In Baghdad, U.S. Army artillery fired at least nine rounds Friday morning into a Sunni Muslim-dominated farming area in the city's southwestern sections of Arab Jibor and Albu Aitha, police reported. A police officer, who asked anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to media, said the shelling targeted "selective areas" where Sunni militants were active.
In another development Thursday, the radical Shiite Muslim leader Muqtada al-Sadr, in a rare televised interview, blamed the United States for Iraq's woes, often referring to it as "the occupier" and accusing it of being behind the sectarian violence, the growing schism between Iraq's majority Shiites and once-dominant Sunni Arabs, and economic hardships.
"We are now facing a brutal Western assault against Islam," he said on Iraqi state television. "This agenda must be countered with a cultural resistance."