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500 Yazidis killed, some buried alive by militants

By Agencies in Baghdad and London | China Daily | Updated: 2014-08-11 06:57

US president says tackling jihadist insurgency will take more time

Islamic State militants have killed at least 500 members of Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north, Iraq's human rights minister told Reuters on Sunday.

Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said the Sunni militants had also buried alive some of their victims, including women and children. Some 300 women were kidnapped as slaves, he added.

"We have striking evidence obtained from Yazidis fleeing Sinjar and some who escaped death, and also crime scene images that show indisputably that the gangs of the Islamic States have executed at least 500 Yazidis after seizing Sinjar," Sudani said.

Sinjar is the ancient home of the Yazidis, one of the towns captured by the Sunni militants who view the community as "devil worshippers".

"Some of the victims, including women and children were buried alive in scattered mass graves in and around Sinjar," Sudani said.

The Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, has prompted tens of thousands of Yazidis and Christians to flee for their lives during their push to within a 30-minute drive of the Kurdish regional capital Arbil.

The Yazidis, followers of an ancient religion derived from Zoroastrianism, are spread over northern Iraq and are part of the country's Kurdish minority.

A deadline passed at midday on Sunday for 300 Yazidi families to convert to Islam or face death at the hands of the Islamic State.

It was not immediately clear whether the Iraqi minister was talking about the fate of those families or others in the conflict.

The militant group, which arrived in northern Iraq in June, has routed Kurds in its latest advance, seizing several towns, a fifth oilfield and Iraq's biggest dam - possibly gaining the ability to flood cities and cut off water and power supplies.

In another development, US jets attacked jihadists who have besieged civilians on an Iraqi mountain for a week, as Britain and France joined a desperate race on Sunday to save them from starvation.

President Barack Obama said on Saturday that US airstrikes had destroyed arms that Islamic State militants could have used against Iraqi Kurds, but he warned there was no quick fix to the crisis, which threatens to tear Iraq apart.

Speaking before US warplanes struck militant targets for the second straight day, Obama said it will take more than bombs to restore stability, and criticized Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government for failing to empower Iraq's Sunnis.

"I don't think we're going to solve this problem in weeks. This is going to take some time," Obama told a news conference in Washington.

Shortly after Obama spoke, US aircraft hit armored vehicles and other Islamic State targets in an area where militants pose an imminent threat to religious minorities, the US Central Command said.

The four strikes, conducted by a mix of drone aircraft and fighter jets, destroyed several armored vehicles and armed trucks, Central Command said.

Later on Saturday, Central Command said the US military had conducted a third airdrop of food and water to members of the Yazidi sect who have taken refuge on Mount Sinjar.

Britain has begun airdropping food and water to thousands of civilians stranded on a mountain in northern Iraq after fleeing jihadist militants, officials said on Sunday.

Reuters - AFP - AP

 500 Yazidis killed, some buried alive by militants

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar west of Mosul, take refuge at Dohuk province on Saturday. Islamic State militants have killed at least 500 members of Iraq's Yazidi minority in northern Iraq, burying some of their victims alive and kidnapping hundreds of women, a Baghdad government minister said on Sunday. Ari Jalal / Reuters

(China Daily 08/11/2014 page12)

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