A five-year-old boy was found by Iraqi police Thursday near the bodies of his five brothers who had been seized by gunmen as they were going to their work in the Rashad area, about 45 kilometers (30miles) southwest of Kirkuk.
The boy, who was unhurt, apparently was brought along to help his brothers, Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir said.
Kirkuk, 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of Baghdad, has faced rising ethnic tensions as Arabs and Turkomen oppose Kurdish efforts to incorporate the oil-rich city into their nearby autonomous zone.
Suspected Sunni insurgents also have been increasing in the area after fleeing a U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown around Baghdad. Iraqi security forces and people associated with them often have been the targets of violence as militants accuse them of collaborating with efforts by the United States and the Iraqi government to stabilize the country.