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 on Saturday.

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, a leader in the Sahwa militias in the city of Ramadi, on Friday night as the extended family was gathered for a meal, said a police official in the city, the capital of Anbar province, 115 km west of Baghdad.

A hospital worker in Ramadi confirmed the deaths. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to release the information.

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