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Gunmen In Uniform Slaughter Iraqi Family Of Six

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- Gunmen wearing army uniforms stormed a house today and killed six members of the same family, including two women and a teenage girl, in a conservative rural area of Iraq, police said.

The women had their throats cut while the men were shot in the head in the attack in Tarmiya, 25 kilometers north of Baghdad, which until recently was viewed as a stronghold of Sunni Islamist Al-Qaeda, police said.

The motives for the killings were not immediately clear.

Overall violence in Iraq has fallen sharply in the past 18 months as sectarian war has subsided between once-dominant Sunnis and the country's majority Shi'a, propelled into power after the fall of Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.

Violent groups like Al-Qaeda continue to stage regular attacks, however, and violence could climb again ahead of a general election due in early 2010.

Military uniforms are easy to obtain in Iraq and the fact that the gunmen in Tarmiya wore them did not necessarily mean they were members of the security forces.

Attackers wearing uniforms killed 12 male members of the same family in a village west of Baghdad on November 16. That incident was attributed either to Al-Qaeda or a local tribal dispute.