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2007 Yazidi communities bombings

Location of Qahtaniya in Iraq
Location Qahtaniya and Jazeera, Iraq
Date August 14, 2007 (UTC+3)
Target Yazidis
Attack type Car bombs
Death(s) 796[1]
Injured 1,562
Perpetrator(s) Unknown: legal proceedings have not yet taken place.
Suspected perpetrator(s) Al-Qaeda in Iraq[2]

The 2007 Yazidi communities bombings occurred at around 8pm local time on August 14, 2007, when four co-ordinated suicide bomb attacks detonated in the Iraqi towns of Qahtaniya and Jazeera (Siba Sheikh Khidir), near Mosul. Iraqi Red Crescent's estimates say the bombs killed 796 and wounded 1,562 people,[1][3] which would make this the Iraq War's most deadly car bomb attack to date.

Contents

Details

The blasts targeted a Kurdish religious minority, the Yazidi.[4][5] The co-ordinated bombings involved a fuel tanker and three cars. An Iraqi interior ministry spokesman said that two tons of explosives were used in the blasts, which crumbled buildings, trapping entire families beneath mud bricks and other wreckage as entire neighborhoods were flattened. Rescuers dug underneath the destroyed buildings by hand to search for remaining survivors.[6]

"Hospitals here are running out of medicine. The pharmacies are empty. We need food, medicine and water otherwise there will be an even greater catastrophe," said Abdul-Rahim al-Shimari, mayor of the Baaj district, which includes the devastated villages.[7]

Responsibility

No group claimed responsibility for the attack. "We're looking at al-Qaeda as the prime suspect," said Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Garver, a United States military spokesman.[8] The group is reported to have distributed leaflets denouncing Yazidis as "anti-Islamic". Others, including Iraq's President, Jalal Talabani, blamed the bombings on "Iraqi Sunni Muslim Arab insurgents" seeking to undercut Premier Maliki's conclave to end political deadlock among the country's leaders.[9]

On September 3, 2007, the U.S. military reportedly killed the mastermind of the bombings, Abu Mohammed al-Afri.[10]

Tensions and background

There have been tensions in the area in recent months, particularly between Yazidis and Sunni Muslims. Prior to the attack, some Yazidis living in the area received threatening letters calling them "infidels".[11] Leaflets were also distributed denouncing Yazidis as "anti-Islamic" and warning them that an attack was imminent.[12][13]

Some sources have theorized that the attack might be connected to an incident wherein Du’a Khalil Aswad, a Yazidi teenage woman, was stoned to death. Aswad had allegedly wanted to convert to Islam in order to marry a Muslim man.[14] Two weeks later, after a video of the stoning appeared on the Internet, Sunni gunmen[15] stopped minibuses filled with Yazidis; 23 Yazidi men were forced from a bus and shot dead.

The Sinjar area which has a mixed population of Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs is scheduled to vote in a plebiscite on accession to the Kurdish region in December 2007. This has caused hostility among the neighbouring Arab communities. A force of 600 Kurdish peshmerga have since been deployed in the area, and ditches have been dug around Yazidi villages to prevent further attacks.[16]

Reactions

  •  Iraq: President Jalal Talabani, who is also Secretary General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, described the attacks as a "cowardly terrorist act". Talabani also blamed the bombings on Iraqi Sunni Muslim Arab insurgents looking to cause havoc in a largely secure part of the nation.[17]
  • Flag of the United Nations.svg United Nations: Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks through a press release, saying, "Nothing can justify such indiscriminate violence against innocent civilians". Ban also urged "Iraqi leaders, regardless of their political or religious affiliations, to work together to protect civilian lives and to dedicate themselves towards a meaningful dialogue aimed at ending the violence and achieving lasting national reconciliation".[18]
  •  United States: American spokespersons have called the bombings "barbaric". In a statement, the White House insisted US forces and the Iraqi government would continue to "beat back" the "vicious and heartless murderers".[4]
  •  United Kingdom: Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in a press statement: "The reports of the violence in Northern Iraq, whose origin has not yet been established, are a murderous blow against the Iraqi people by those who seek only destruction.[19]
  • Iraqi Kurdistan Iraqi Kurdistan: Representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government[20] to the North claimed the attack could have been averted if the area had been controlled by Kurdish security.

Sources

  1. ^ a b Reuters AlertNet - FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, Jan 20
  2. ^ Paul Tait, Baghdad, "Al-Qaeda blamed for Yazidi carnage", The Scotsman (August 16, 2007); attributed to Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Garver, a US military spokesman.
  3. ^ Damien Cave and James Glanz, "Toll in Iraq Truck Bombings Is Raised to More Than 500", New York Times (August 21, 2007).
  4. ^ a b BBC NEWS | Middle East | Deadly Iraq sect attacks kill 200
  5. ^ Dozens killed in multiple suicide attacks in Iraq - CNN.com
  6. ^ Iraqi Interior Ministry: 400 killed in suicide bombings in northern Iraq - Israel News, Ynetnews
  7. ^ Associated Press, "Shiites, Kurds form alliance", USA Today (Aug. 16, 2007.
  8. ^ Paul Tait, Baghdad, "Al-Qaeda blamed for Yazidi carnage", The Scotsman (August 16, 2007)
  9. ^ "Killings stoke tension in Iraq city", AlJazeera.net
  10. ^ AFP: Qaeda militant behind deadliest Iraq attack killed: US
  11. ^ Arwa Damon, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Raja Razek, "Iraqi officials: Truck bombings killed at least 500," CNN.com
  12. ^ NPR: General Calls Attack on Yazidis 'Ethnic Cleansing'
  13. ^ BBC NEWS | Middle East | Minority targeted in Iraq bombings
  14. ^ Survivors of bombs left to die in rubble - Times Online
  15. ^ Stephen Farell, "Death Toll in Iraq Bombings Rises to 250", New York Times (August 15, 2007).
  16. ^ NPR: Yazidis Live Among Reminders of Deadly Attack
  17. ^ "Killings stoke tension in Iraq city", AlJazeera.net (August 12, 2007).
  18. ^ UN calls on Iraqi leaders to set aside religious differences after deadly car blasts
  19. ^ Suicide Bombings Kill 250 In Iraq |Sky News|World News
  20. ^ Kurdish Regional Government website
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