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Twenty-one killed in Iraq suicide bombing

world Updated: Aug 14, 2009 07:07 IST
Twenty-one killed in Iraq suicide bombing

At least 21 people, most of them members of the ancient Yazidi religious sect, were killed when two suicide bombers blew themselves up on Thursday in a packed cafe in northern Iraq, officials said.

At least 32 people were also wounded when the bombers detonated suicide belts packed with explosives in the cafe in the Kalaa neighbourhood of Sinjar town.

"We received 21 corpses of different ages and two heads belonging to the suicide bombers," the director of the Sinjar hospital, Kifah Mahmud, told AFP.

"We received 32 injured, 18 of them in a critical condition," he said.

Ambulance driver Sammer Khorsheed said: "After the explosion we went quickly to the site, which was very close to the hospital. When we got there we saw many corpses, body parts and wounded everywhere.

"We saw burning bodies and we loaded the victims with help from people. Three victims died on the way to the hospital."

Sinjar, northwest of the insurgent stronghold of Mosul in northern Nineveh province, is predominantly populated by Yazidis, as well as by Arabs and Muslim Kurds.

Local authorities slapped down a curfew on all vehicles in the town in the wake of the attack.

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.

In August 2007, more than 400 Yazidis were slaughtered when four suicide truck bombs targeted two northern Iraqi villages in the deadliest attack since the US-led invasion of 2003.

Yazidis number several hundred thousand and live mostly in northern Iraq. The speak a dialect of Kurdish, and follow a pre-Islamic religion and 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.

In a separate attack, two people were killed and 13 hurt by a motorcycle bomb in the Dora suburb of Baghdad, an interior ministry official said.

One person was also killed and five injured when a bomb went off outside a cafe in a separate part of the suburb, the official said.

Despite an overall drop in violence in recent months, attacks on security forces and civilians remain common in the disputed oil hub of Kirkuk, as well as Mosul and Baghdad.

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.