BAGHDAD – At least 190 people were killed and more than 200 were injured in four suicide bombings using fuel trucks as weapons. A pre-Islamic Kurdish religious sect was targeted. “Half the houses are completely collapsed because they were made from clay, said Capt. Mohammed Ahmad of the Iraqi army’s Third Division. He said that a market, a bus station and scores of families were obliterated. Another Iraqi officer described the scene as apocalyptic: “It looks like a nuclear bomb hit the villages,” he said.
Most of the victims in Tuesday’s attacks were reportedly from the Yazidi sect, who number around 350,000 in the area around Mosul in Ninevah Province. There are additional small populations in neighbouring countries and in Europe, particularly Germany.
The faith combines elements of Zoroastrian, Manichaean, Jewish, Christian and Muslim religion and centres on an angel, believed by Yazidis to be God’s chief representative on Earth. Portrayed as a peacock, the angel is often misunderstood by Christians and Muslims who perceive Yazidis to be Satanists, which has long resulted in persecution.
The bombs tore through communities near Qahataniya, 75 miles west of Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city, said Abdul-Rahman al-Shimiri, the top government official in the area, and Iraq Army Capt. Mohammed Ahmed.
Elsewhere, an American transport helicopter crashed near an air base in Anbar, killing five U.S. servicemembers. Four more U.S. soldiers were reported killed in separate attacks — three in an explosion near their vehicle Monday in the northwestern Ninevah province and another who died of wounds from combat in western Baghdad.
This was the deadliest attack since November 23, when 215 were killed in Sadr City.
Juan Cole reports: “This massive bombing is likely to be the work of the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement, which has been blocked from carrying out such destabilizing operations in Baghdad itself by Gen. Petraeus’s efforts. The point is to spread generalized fear. It may be that Salafi Jihadis are also especially targeting non-Sunni populations in the north, since that has the double value to them of also punishing lack of orthodoxy.”
Today also marks the sixth-month anniversary of Bush’s escalation, the “surge” that was supposed to give the Iraqis the breathing room to come together politically.