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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture