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 Iraq: 330 Kurdish Yazidis slaughtered by four suicide truck bombs

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Iraq: 330 Kurdish Yazidis slaughtered by four suicide truck bombs  15.8.2007



OFFICIALS say as many as 500 Kurdish Yazidi probably died in a series of coordinated truck bombings that devastated two northern Iraqi Kurdish villages.

August 15, 2007

Mosul, Northern Iraq, -- Four massive truck bombs killed at least 330 people on Tuesday in two villages in a Kurdish-speaking area near the Syrian border in the province of Nineveh, destroying houses and sending hundreds of wounded to at least six hospitals as far as 150 miles away, the Iraqi authorities said.

"Half the houses are completely collapsed because they were made from clay," said Capt. Mohammed Ahmad of the Iraqi army's 3rd Division. He said scores of families were obliterated in the blast that wiped out a market and a bus station.

The attacks in the villages of Al-Qahtaniya and Al-Adnaniyah killed more than 500 people and wounded hundreds, officials reported.

Most of the victims in Tuesday's attacks were reportedly from the Kurdish Yazidi sect, who number some 350,000 in the area around Mosul speak a dialect of Kurdish but follow a pre-Islamic religion and have their own cultural traditions.

Another Iraqi officer described the scene as apocalyptic: "It looks like a nuclear bomb hit the villages," he said.

The bombs -- including at least one rigged to a fuel tanker -- detonated in quick succession in Qahtaniya and Jazeera, towns 125 kilometres west of Mosul, filled mostly with Kurdish Yazidis, Kurdish-speaking adherents of a pre-Islamic religion.

The group has long been a minority in Iraq, and after some Yazidis stoned a Yazidi woman to death in April for dating a Sunni Arab man, Yazidis have been frequent targets of Sunni attacks. Many Yazidis have moved to villages farther west,
www.ekurd.netwhere they comprise a local majority. A 23 Yazidis were slain in April by gunmen who apparently targeted them among passengers on a bus in northern Iraq.

"I gave blood. I saw many maimed people with no legs or hands," said Ghassan Salim, a 40-year-old Yazidi teacher who went to a hospital to donate blood for survivors. "Many of the wounded were left in the hospital garage or in the streets because the hospital is small."

The center of the Yazidi faith is around Mosul, but smaller communities exist in Turkey, Syria and other places.

The deadly assault on Tuesday crushed the hope that there would be safety in numbers -- especially near the border with Syria, which U.S. officials have long described as an entry point for foreign fighters.

The blasts capped one of the worst days of violence in months and raised further questions about whether the U.S. military effort has pushed insurgents into less populated areas.

Witnesses to the suicide attacks said U.S. helicopters swooped in to help evacuate wounded to hospitals in Duhok city in Kurdistan autonomous region, a Kurdish city near the Turkish border. Civilian cars and ambulances also rushed injured to hospitals in Duhok, police said.

There was no claim of responsibility, but the attack bore the hallmark of al-Qaida in Iraq, which has been regrouping in the north after being driven from havens in Anbar and Diyala provinces.

White House denounces Iraq bombings against Kurds.

The Bush administration denounced the bombings as "barbaric attacks on innocent civilians," White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino expressed sympathy to the families of those killed or wounded.

Copyright , respective author or news agency,  AP | AFP


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