Gunmen stormed the home of a Shiite family living in a mostly Sunni neighborhood of Baghdad and killed all four family members, police said Sunday.
Two policemen said a 16-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl were shot to death with their parents in the raid, which took place around 11 p.m. Saturday. A Baghdad morgue official confirmed the deaths.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Further details about the family or the motive behind the shooting were not immediately available. But the killings were reminiscent of the sectarian violence that plagued Iraq from 2005 to 2007, when whole neighborhoods were cleansed of one sect or the other.
The attack came hours after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told U.S. House Speaker John Boehner that Iraq's security forces can protect the country after the planned withdrawal of 46,000 U.S. troops by the end of the year.
In a statement on his website, al-Maliki told Boehner that "the Iraqi armed and security forces are able to handle the responsibility of maintaining security, and work in a professional way."
"We looking forward to future cooperation with the United Stated in the area of training and arming forces," the statement said.
Al-Maliki has maintained that the estimated 46,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq must leave by Dec. 31 as required under a security agreement between Baghdad and Washington. However, a small number of active-duty soldiers — currently estimated at 119 — will remain in Iraq next year as part of a U.S. Embassy office to continue training Iraqi forces as they buy new arms and equipment from American firms.
Boehner, an Ohio Republican, was accompanied by a bipartisan delegation of House lawmakers for the one-day stop in Iraq that ended Sunday morning. In a statement, Boehner noted the vast difference in Iraq's security from four years ago, when "a terrorist insurgency was killing innocent civilians and wreaking havoc across the country."
"Today Iraq is a different country," Boehner said. He affirmed the year-end deadline for the troops withdrawal and pledged to continue assisting Iraq as the nation moves away from eight years of U.S. military support.
"Iraq is critical to our immediate and long-term national security interests, and we must protect the economic, political, and security progress that has been made," Boehner said.