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17 killed in Iraq suicide bombing: police

world Updated: Aug 13, 2009 22:07 IST
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At least 17 people were killed when two suicide bombers blew themselves up on Thursday in a packed cafe in Iraq's restive northern Nineveh province, police said.

At least 20 people were also wounded after the bombers detonated suicide belts packed with explosives in the cafe in the town of Kalaa, northwest of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh, a police official told AFP.

Kalaa is predominantly populated by Yazidis, a minority religious sect, as well as Arabs and Kurds. Despite an overall drop in violence in recent months, attacks on security forces and civilians remain common in Kirkuk, in the insurgent stronghold of Mosul and in Baghdad.

The attack is the deadliest since Monday, when 51 people were killed across Iraq, including 28 members of the tiny Shabak sect cut down when two truck bombs detonated in the village of Khaznah outside of Mosul.

The number of violent deaths fell by a third last month to 275 from 437 in June, following a pullback by US forces from urban areas.

The figure for May was 155, the lowest of any month since the US-led invasion of 2003. In August 2007, more than 400 Yazidis were slaughtered when four suicide truck bombs targeted members of the sect, in the deadliest attack since the US-led invasion of 2003.

Yazidis -- who number several hundred thousand -- mostly live in northern Iraq and speak a dialect of Kurdish but follow a pre-Islamic religion and have their own cultural traditions.

They believe in God the creator and respect the Biblical and Koranic prophets, especially Abraham, but their main focus of worship is Malak Taus, the chief of the archangels, often represented by a peacock. Followers of other religions know this angel as Lucifer or Satan, leading to popular prejudice that the secretive Yazidis are devil-worshippers.