All of the dead appear to be Yazidis, apparently killed in revenge after a Yazidi woman who converted to Islam was stoned to death by relatives. In response, the gunmen killed 23 Yazidis, and one can’t rule out further reprisals. “Gunmen kill 23 from tiny sect in Iraq,” by Lauren Frayer for The Associated Press:
BAGHDAD – Gunmen in northern Iraq stopped a bus filled with Christians and members of a tiny, mostly Kurdish religious sect on Sunday, police said, separating out the groups and taking 23 of the passengers away to be shot.
The attack came on a violent day in Baghdad, with at least 20 people killed in car bombings, most in a double suicide strike against a police station in a religiously mixed neighborhood.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, on a tour abroad to ask the Arab world’s Sunni-led governments to help his struggling government stop the violence in Iraq, said he told Egypt’s president that Iraq’s reality is “not a civil or sectarian war.”
Police said the execution-style killings of the Yazidis “” a primarily Kurdish sect that worships an angel figure considered to be the devil by some Muslims and Christians “” appeared to be in response to the stoning death of a Yazidi woman who had recently converted to Islam.
In the northern Iraq killings, armed men in several cars stopped the bus as it was carrying workers from the Mosul Textile Factory to their hometown of Bashika, which has a mixed population of Christians and Yazidis.
The gunmen checked passengers’ identification, then asked the Christians to get off the bus, said police Brig. Mohammed al-Wagga.
With the Yazidis still inside, the gunmen drove them to eastern Mosul, where they were lined up along a wall and shot to death, al-Wagga said.
After the killings, hundreds of Yazidis took to the streets of Bashika, a town in Ninevah province that is 80 percent Yazidi, 15 percent Christian and about five percent Muslim. Shops were shuttered and many Muslims closed themselves in their homes, fearing reprisal attacks.
Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a provincial police spokesman said the executions were in response to the killing two weeks ago of a Yazidi woman who had recently converted to Islam after she fell in love with a Muslim and ran off with him.
Disapproving relatives dragged her back to Bashika, where she was stoned to death, he said. A grainy video showing gruesome scenes of the stoning was distributed on Iraqi Web sites in recent weeks.
A Muslim man who said he released from the bus with six Christians said 10 gunmen stopped the vehicle, then ordered the driver to steer it into a narrow alley, where they ordered the passengers off and separated them according to their identification cards, which indicate the holders’ religion.
“Then they asked the Yazidis to get back on the bus. The gunmen started to shout ‘God curse your devil’ and they were telling the Yazidis that ‘It is not your business if the woman decided to convert to Islam,” said the passenger, Mustafa Ali Mustafa.