Iraq blasts leave 175 dead


Summary

The four blasts at two villages in the country's Nineveh province appeared to target members of an ancient religious sect, the Yazidis.

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It is thought the attacks may be connected to an ongoing dispute between the minority Yazidi community and local Muslims.

The bombs, one of which was in a fuel tanker, exploded in the streets of Al-Khataniyah and Al-Adnaniyah. Together they amounted to one of the bloodiest single incidents of the four year war.

Houses collapsed

"Many houses have collapsed and the bombs seem to have targeted bus

stations," said Najim Abdullah, mayor of the nearby town of Tal Afar.

Iraqi army spokesman Captain Mohammed al-Obeidi and Dakhil Qassim Hassun, mayor of the municipality of Sinjar, said the blasts left more than 200 wounded.

US military helicopters have been brought in to help transport the victims to hospital.

Yazidis are followers of a pre-Muslim, predominantly Kurdish, sect who believe in God and respect Biblical and Koranic prophets, but worship the archangel Malak Taus.

The object of the 500,000-strong group’s faith – known in other religions as Lucifer or Satan – has led to popular prejudice that Yazidis are devil worshippers.

Revenge attacks

The sect has been the target of frequent violence in northern Iraq since a 17-year-old Yazidi girl was stoned to death by her own community earlier this year for running away to marry a young Muslim man.

Doaa Khalil's killing, on April 7, was captured on mobile phone videos and widely distributed, sparking 'revenge attacks' by Sunni extremists.

On April 23, gunmen stopped a bus carrying workers home to the village of Beshika 10 kilometres outside Mosul, dragged out 23 Yazidis and shot them dead.

Elsewhere in the country on Tuesday, five US soldiers were killed when their helicopter came down during a routine post-maintenance check flight in Al-Anbar province.


The four blasts at two villages in the country's Nineveh province appeared to target members of an ancient religious sect, the Yazidis.

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It is thought the attacks may be connected to an ongoing dispute between the minority Yazidi community and local Muslims.

The bombs, one of which was in a fuel tanker, exploded in the streets of Al-Khataniyah and Al-Adnaniyah. Together they amounted to one of the bloodiest single incidents of the four year war.

Houses collapsed

"Many houses have collapsed and the bombs seem to have targeted bus

stations," said Najim Abdullah, mayor of the nearby town of Tal Afar.

Iraqi army spokesman Captain Mohammed al-Obeidi and Dakhil Qassim Hassun, mayor of the municipality of Sinjar, said the blasts left more than 200 wounded.

US military helicopters have been brought in to help transport the victims to hospital.

Yazidis are followers of a pre-Muslim, predominantly Kurdish, sect who believe in God and respect Biblical and Koranic prophets, but worship the archangel Malak Taus.

The object of the 500,000-strong group’s faith – known in other religions as Lucifer or Satan – has led to popular prejudice that Yazidis are devil worshippers.

Revenge attacks

The sect has been the target of frequent violence in northern Iraq since a 17-year-old Yazidi girl was stoned to death by her own community earlier this year for running away to marry a young Muslim man.

Doaa Khalil's killing, on April 7, was captured on mobile phone videos and widely distributed, sparking 'revenge attacks' by Sunni extremists.

On April 23, gunmen stopped a bus carrying workers home to the village of Beshika 10 kilometres outside Mosul, dragged out 23 Yazidis and shot them dead.

Elsewhere in the country on Tuesday, five US soldiers were killed when their helicopter came down during a routine post-maintenance check flight in Al-Anbar province.