Jihad against the Yazidis. “Suicide truck bombers strike members of ancient religious sect in northwestern Iraq; dozens killed,” from The Associated Press :
BAGHDAD: Three suicide truck bombers hit members of an ancient religious sect in northwestern Iraq, killing at least 20 people and wounding 70, police said.
All the blasts occurred about 8 p.m. in two residential areas primarily inhabited by Yazidis near the town of Qahataniya, 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city, police and city officials said.
Several shops were set ablaze and apartment buildings were destroyed by the powerful explosions.
Nobody claimed responsibility for the attacks. But they bore the hallmark of al-Qaida in Iraq, which has been regrouping in the north of the country after being driven from safe havens in Anbar and Diyala provinces.
Yazidis “” a primarily Kurdish sect that worships an angel figure considered to be the devil by some Muslims and Christians “” have been the frequent target of violence in northern Iraq, particularly in areas surrounding Mosul, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
The stoning death in April of a Yazidi teenager who had recently converted to Islam after she fell in love with a Muslim and ran off with him appears to have triggered some of the worst attacks. Police said 18-year-old Duaa Khalil Aswad was killed by relatives who disapproved of the match.
A grainy video showing gruesome scenes of the woman’s killing was later distributed on Iraqi Web sites, but its authenticity could not be independently verified.
Two weeks later, gunmen shot and killed 23 Yazidis execution-style after stopping their bus and separating out followers of other faiths after checking their identification cards in what was believed to have been retaliation for the woman’s death.
The bodies of two Yazidi men who had been stoned to death also turned up in the morgue in the northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday, six days after they had been kidnapped while they were en route to Baghdad to sell olives, police said.
Police Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir and a Sunni tribal leader said Akbar Hassan, 38, and Ayad Khadir, 50, had been kidnapped by al-Qaida-linked insurgents who took them to the predominantly Sunni village of al-Saeeda and ordered the residents to stone them because they were “infidels.” The villagers refused, so the insurgents killed the men themselves, Qadir said.
Sheik Ismael al-Hadidi, a Sunni tribal leader in Kirkuk, said about 40 gunmen had distributed fliers signed by the al-Qaida front group the Islamic State of Iraq in the village saying that the killing of the two Yazidi men was in retaliation for the killing of the Yazidi woman in April.
The bodies were left outside for 24 hours before being buried because the villagers were afraid of the gunmen. But some villagers later told al-Hadidi, who informed the family of the slain men, who lived near Mosul.
“By this savage act, the insurgents wanted to win the support and the sympathy of the Sunni residents of al-Saeeda village, but the Sunni villagers’ refusal to participate in the stoning shows that those insurgents have failed and they are unpopular,” al-Hadidi said.
Relatives traveled to Kirkuk but were afraid to go to the village, so five police cars were sent to retrieve the bodies, al-Hadidi said.
“This is a criminal act carried out by cowards who want to exploit the story of the slain Yazidi woman,” one of them, 44-year-old Sami Benda, said. “The two men killed were only peasants who were planning to sell their crops in Baghdad, they have nothing to do with political and religious disputes. We are still paying the price of a foolish, wrong act conducted by small number of Yazidis who stoned the woman.“