Police said a young child and a women were left traumatised after hearing a shooting in their Belfast house.
A man was shot in both legs in a house in Hazel Glen in the west of the city on Wednesday at around 8pm.
Detective Inspector O'Flaherty said: "It is reported that two masked males forced their way into the property and fired a number of shots at the man in the hallway. He remains in hospital this morning where he's being treated for his wounds.
"This was a merciless attack which was carried out by thugs and which has left the victim with significant injuries. It has also left a young child and the woman who were in the house, and who heard this brutal attack being carried out, extremely traumatised.
"Those who are involved in these attacks do not represent the interests of this community, nor do they contribute anything to it. They do it to try and exert influence, or gain control of those they claim to represent.
"No one has the right to violate the rights of others.
"As part of our enquiries into this shooting we are also investigating a possible link with a report of a burnt out car, an Audi A3, that was found of McKinstry Road and reported to us just before 8:30pm."
SDLP Councillor Brian Heading expressed his shock at the incident.
"I am angry to learn that two masked men broke into a house in the Hazel Glen area of Belfast and shot a man, while a woman and child were also in the house.
“This type of horrific attack can never be justified nor is this violence wanted by people in this part of the city. Our thoughts are with the victim in this case and hopefully he can make a physical and mental recovery from this ordeal.
“An attack like this is appalling in any circumstance, but particularly just weeks from Christmas, with a woman and child also in the home.
“I urge anyone with any information to contact the PSNI. I know the local community will pull together to stand resolutely against this kind of brutal violence.”
Sinn Fein MLA Orlaithi Flynn also condemned the attack.
“There is no place for this type of activity on the streets and those responsible should get off the backs of the community," she said.
“Anyone with information should bring it forward to the PSNI.”
Detective Inspector O'Flaherty added: "We are working to establish a motive for this horrific attack and appeal to anyone who was in the Hazel Glen area between 7:40pm and 8pm and who saw or heard anything suspicious to get in touch with us. I would also ask anyone who knows anything about the Audi A3 car that was found burnt out to call our detectives at Musgrave on 101, and quote reference number 1590 09/12/20.
"You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/"