Four suicide bombers hit Yazidi communities in northwest Iraq with nearly simultaneous attacks on Tuesday, killing at least 175 people and wounding 200 others, the Iraqi military said.
The toll was the highest in a concerted attack since November 23, when 215 people were killed by mortar fire and five car bombs in Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City.
The bombs tore through the districts near Qahataniya, 120 kilometers (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.
Yazidis are members of an ancient, primarily Kurdish, religious sect that worships an angel figure some that Christians and Muslims believe to be the devil.
Al-Shimiri and Ahmed said at least 30 homes were destroyed in the bombings.
Dhakil Qassim, mayor of Sinjar, a town near where the attacks occurred, said al-Qaida in Iraq was behind the bombings, citing what he said were Kurdish government intelligence reports. "This is a terrorist act and the people targeted are poor Yazidis who have nothing to do with the armed conflict," Qassim said. "Al-Qaida fighters are very active in this area near the Syrian border."
US helicopters swooped into the area to evacuate the wound to hospitals in Dahuk, a Kurdish city near the Turkish border about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Qahataniya.
Civilians cars and ambulances also rushed the wounded to hospitals in Dahuk, police said.