Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) — The death toll from coordinated suicide bombings in northern Iraq rose to more than 200, the deadliest in the country since November and the worst attack on a Kurdish sect that has been targeted in the sectarian conflict.
Three truck bombs were detonated in the villages of al- Qataniyah and al-Adnaniyah in the northwestern province of Ninewah late yesterday. The blasts caused “severe destruction,” leveling houses and injuring another 200 people, police chief General Wafiq al-Hamdani told state television. The number of deaths may increase as bodies are found in the rubble, he said.
Most of the dead were from the Yazidi sect, state television said. The mainly ethnic Kurds follow a pre-Islamic religion whose followers believe that God created the world, though they also worship Malak Taus, a leader of seven archangels.
The group has been drawn into the violence several times, with 23 Yazidis killed in April by gunmen who stopped their bus near the northern city of Mosul. More than 200 people died in a series of bomb and mortar attacks in Baghdad’s mainly Shiite Muslim Sadr City area on Nov. 23.
The Yazidis have been “attacked so many times throughout history,” Sarbest Kirkuky, manager of the London-based Kurdish Cultural Center, said today in a telephone interview. “Some consider them as devil-worshippers or unbelievers; in their minds they are against Islam and they should be removed.”
President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, denounced yesterday’s bombings as a “heinous crime” and “another episode in the genocide war waged by extremists against all the Iraqi people,” according to a statement posted on his party’s Web site today.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered emergency food and medical supplies to be sent to those affected, and pledged that “these crimes that shame humanity will not stop the process of building the new Iraq,” according to an e-mailed statement from his office.
Violence has increased in provinces outside the Baghdad region since January, when the U.S. began deploying an additional force of 30,000 in an effort to gain control of the capital and neighboring al-Anbar and Diyala provinces, American commanders have said.
The method of the attack was “consistent” with al-Qaeda tactics, U.S. military spokesman Brigadier-General Kevin Bergner said at a televised news conference in Baghdad today.
Conflicts between rival ethnic and religious groups leave hundreds of Iraqi civilians dead each week. The main fighting is between the Sunni Muslim minority, dominant under former leader Saddam Hussein, and the Shiite majority.
Yesterday’s bombings may further jeopardize attempts to reconcile Iraq’s warring communities as al-Maliki tries to bring together his embattled, Shiite-dominated government. Ten Cabinet members have boycotted meetings or resigned since Aug. 1.
Four members of the secular Iraqi National List on Aug. 7 said they would stay away from meetings, denouncing al-Maliki’s government as being founded on sectarianism. Six lawmakers from the largest Sunni bloc, the National Accordance Front, resigned on Aug. 1, citing a lack of progress on resolving national reconciliation issues and protesting a lack of influence in security matters.
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