BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military said disturbing video that shows masked boys brandishing guns was an al Qaeda in Iraq training and recruiting tool.
The U.S. says this image of young boys is from an al Qaeda in Iraq training and recruitment video.
"Al Qaeda in Iraq wants to poison the next generation of Iraqis," said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith during a Baghdad news conference about the release of the tape.
The video, he said, showed boys, "many below age 11" being used "to produce the next generation of al Qaeda."
Masked boys are seen in the tape armed with grenade launchers, AK-47s and pistols. They're standing in front of a black banner hung on a wall, shouting slogans. Another video shows a boy, surrounded by automatic weapons and wearing a suicide vest, according to The Associated Press.
Also in the video, armed boys in black hoods, with weapons pointed, shout and force a man off his bicycle, search a car, and clear a building while a male voice off camera instructs them.
Smith said the military doesn't know how many children al Qaeda in Iraq uses in its operations. He said it's believed the boys in the video were willing participants. Watch the disturbing video »
"Al Qaeda often refers to the children as the new generation of the mujahedeen," Smith said, using the Arabic term for holy warriors. "We've also seen evidence of al Qaeda entering schools, disseminating propaganda and no doubt terrorizing the children and their teachers."
The video indicates that al Qaeda in Iraq was increasingly targeting children and posting propaganda on some of the 5,000 al Qaeda-affiliated Web sites.
The U.S. military said the video excerpts were culled from five propaganda videos obtained during a raid targeting a senior member of al Qaeda in Iraq in December in Diyala province.
In Baghdad on Wednesday, roadside bombings in south-central Iraq killed seven people and wounded nine others, Iraq's Interior Ministry said.
A roadside bomb targeting police killed four people and wounded nine others in the south-central Iraqi provincial capital of Diwaniya on Wednesday morning, an Interior Ministry official told CNN. The city is the provincial seat of the largely Shiite Qadisiya province.
Police were transporting prisoners at the time of the attack. The four killed, two women, a child and a man, were civilian passers-by. Four civilians, three detainees, and two police officers were wounded.
A roadside bomb exploded midmorning in central Baghdad's Andalus Square, killing three civilians, according to the ministry.
In eastern Baghdad, a third roadside bomb targeted a U.S. military patrol, the Interior Ministry said. There was no immediate word on casualties.
The U.S. military on Wednesday also reported the deaths of two Sons of Iraq members who were trying to thwart a suicide attack on Tuesday in a town northwest of Baghdad. Watch more on Sons of Iraq »
A militant detonated a suicide vest outside a photo shop in Awad.
The pair died in the strike but "prevented the man from detonating the explosive vest filled with ball bearings in a crowd of local Iraqis. The selflessness of these men allowed time for surviving witnesses to recognize the threat and escape the blast," the military said.
The Sons of Iraq, Concerned Local Citizens and Awakening Councils are the names of anti-al Qaeda in Iraq citizen groups that have emerged across the country in recent months.
The U.S. military on Wednesday also reported a series of raids across Iraq over the last few days that led to the detentions of 20 suspected militants. The operations took place in the Baghdad area, in Mosul, and near Ramadi. Iraqi soldiers and Sons of Iraq members also found weapons caches. E-mail to a friend
CNN's Arwa Damon contributed to this report.
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