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Condemnations After Murder Of Israeli Settler Family

The United States, Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas, and the Quartet of international Middle East mediators have condemned the murders of an Israeli couple and three of their young children in a stabbing attack in a West Bank Jewish settlement.

Israeli troops have been searching for the perpetrators of the killings which occurred late on March 11 in the Jewish religious settlement of Itamar, near the Palestinian city of Nablus. Palestinian militants are suspected of being behind the attack.

The White House said there was "no possible justification" for the killing of parents and children in their home, and called on the Palestinian Authority to unequivocally condemn what it called a "terrorist attack."

The Reuters news agency said Abbas later issued a statement condemning "all acts of violence against civilians, regardless of who carried them out and their motives."

The international Quartet said it condemned the killings in "the strongest possible terms," and urged that the perpetrators be brought to justice. The Quartet statement also welcomed the Palestinian leader's condemnation of the murders.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged Israelis not to take the law into their own hands to avenge the killings.

Reports say the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a Palestinian militant group, has claimed responsibility for the attack, which has been described as the most serious of its kind in years.

compiled from agency reports