Suicide bombers kill 200 in northern Iraq

In a savage onslaught on the pre-Islamic Yazidi sect, four suicide bombers driving fuel tankers blew themselves up in northern Iraq killing 200 people and wounding 300 others, according to local officials.

The attacks took place in the Sinjar district 70 miles west of Mosul and targeted houses of the Yazidi, a 350,000-strong secretive community whose beliefs are a mixture of Zotroastrian and Manichean beliefs predating Islam and Christianity.

The death toll was the highest in Iraq since mortar fire and car bombs killed 215 people in Sadr City, the impoverished Shia suburb of Baghdad, on 23 November last year. One source said that there were two explosions in an area of dense housing in Sinjar which then 'came under a mortar attack following the double explosion.' It is not clear why the Yazidi should have been singled out for the coordinated assault though their non-Islamic beliefs would be enough to lead an attack by al Qaida in Iraq. They are also ethnic Kurds who speak Kurdish which would also make them a target. The public lynching of a Yazidi girl who converted to Islam in order to marry her Muslim Kurdish boyfriend led sectarian strife earlier this year. Gunmen took 23 Yazidi textile workers from a bus near Mosul and shot them all dead after telling non-Yazidi workers to go home.

At least thirty houses were destroyed in the attacks, the worst of which took place Siba Sheikh Kidar housing compound west of Mosul. Two more explosions took place in the Kar Izir area two miles to the south. A local source said that "people are in a panic while hospitals are still rushing people to Sinjar hospital." Inside the hospital corridors were crowded with wounded.

Dhakil Qassim, the mayor of Sinjar said that al Qaida in Iraq were behind the bombings citing Kurdish government intelligence reports. The Sinjar area is largely under Kurdish control and is claimed as part of the historic Kurdish homeland from which Saddam Hussein sought to drive them.

"This is a terrorist act and the people targeted are poor Yazidis who have nothing to do with the armed conflict," Mr Qassim said. "Al Qaida fighters are very active in this area near the Syrian border." US helicopters took some of the injured to the nearby Kurdish city of Dohuk. Ghassan Salim, 40, a teacher, said: "We went to the hospital and the wounded told us about the attacks. I gave blood. I saw many maimed people with no legs or arms. Many were left in the hospital garage or in the streets because the hospital is too small." The attacks on the Yazidis were the culmination of a day of violence spectacular even by Iraqi standards during which an American helicopter crashed west of Baghdad killing five crew. Although US helicopters have been shot down the losses are not high given the numbers in use and are far below the numbers ost in Vietnam.

In the centre of the capital 50 gunmen in dressed in Iraqi security force uniform and using 17 official vehicles calmly kidnapped a deputy oil minister from the State Oil Marketing Organization. A further three director generals at the ministry were abducted.

A crucial bridge between Baghdad and the northern capital was destroyed when a suicide bomber driving a fuel truck blew himself up while crossing it. The explosion, which killed ten people and wounded six, took place at Taji, just north of Baghdad. Insurgents have recently targeted bridges in and around the capital.

The US 'surge' is not succeeding in reducing the overall level of violence despite the revolt of Sunni tribal leaders against al Qaida. There is also an escalating conflict between the American military and the main Shia militia, the Mehdi Army. The US has been seeking to put al Qaida in Iraq under enough pressure to prevent the use of massive suicide bombs against Shia civilian areas. This inevitably produces a rash of revenge killings of Sunni.

Sectarian warfare is continuous wherever the two communities live close together. Some 15 bodies were found in Baghdad yesterday and a further 15 Sunni were dumped near a petrol station in Khalis, a largely Shia town in embattled Diyala province.

The Yazidis

The Yazidi minority in Iraq say they have often faced discrimination. In April gunmen shot dead 23, factory workers from the sect in the northern city of Mosul.

There are believed to be around 350,000 Yazidis in total, mainly ethnic Kurds, with many of them living near Mosul, but also in Armenia, Georgia, Syria, Iran, Turkey and Russia. Their origins are lost in ancient history, but the word has been translated as 'divine' and 'god', from the word Yezdan.

They believe in a creator god and that seven angels look after the world, the leader of which is a peacock-angel. Some Muslims and Christians say Yazidis worship a 'fallen angel', but the religion believes the peacock to be a source of good.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin