BAGHDAD - With less than two weeks until Iraqi parliamentary elections on March 7, at least 23 people were killed in terror attacks around the country, including eight members of a Shiite family in a village south of Baghdad.
According to a statement by Baghdad's security command, terrorists used guns with silencers to murder and behead family members in the village of Wahda. Other than describing the attack as an "ugly crime," the statement provided few details.
An Associated Press television video of the family's home showed a blood-soaked carpet and mattress and stuffed animals scattered across the floor. AP also filmed four people at a local police station who may have been the attackers.
"The crime of killing my brother, his wife and six children - five girls and one boy - is an ugly and ruthless crime," Mahdi Majid Maryoush al-Qabi said.
"I call upon the Iraqi government and the prime minister to execute the accused immediately at the crime scene so they will set an example for others. They are devoid of any human values," al-Qabi said.
This family had left their home in 2006 because of the internecine fighting and returned in 2009, according to local residents and a Baghdad police officer.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis left their homes in 2006 and 2007 to escape a rash of murders and kidnappings, emptying towns where Sunnis and Shiites had lived side by side.
Meanwhile, U.S. Gen. Ray Odierno told reporters at the Pentagon that if chaos follows the spring elections, he could slow the exit of U.S. troops.
Some 30,000 of the 96,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq are slated to leave by Aug. 31. The remaining 50,000, who will help train Iraqi security forces, are supposed to leave by the end of 2011.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.