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.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam