Yazidi is a pre-Islamic religious sect making up 30 percent of the population in and around Mosul. The group, also found in other areas of the Middle East including Iran, Turkey, Armenia and Syria — and in Russia — is made up primarily of ethnic Kurds. Estimates indicate there are fewer than 500,000, and possibly even fewer than 100,000, Yazidis across the globe. The rejection that evil and the devil exist is one the central principles of the group.
Multiple truck bombings west of Mosul on Tuesday claimed at least 175 lives and left at least 200 people wounded, Iraqi police and Interior Ministry officials said.
Local emergency services officials tell NPR — unofficially — that as many as 500 could be wounded and that the toll could rise.
The attacks struck three villages west of Mosul that are home to the Yazidis, an ancient minority sect.
The bombs tore through the districts near Qahataniya, 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.
Al-Shimiri and Ahmed said at least 30 homes were destroyed in the bombings.
"This is a terrorist act and the people targeted are poor Yazidis who have nothing to do with the armed conflict," said Dhakil Qassim, mayor of Sinjar, a town near where the attacks occurred.
Earlier, a truck bomb destroyed a bridge connecting Baghdad with the northern cities of Iraq, killing 10 people.
Insurgents had set off explosives on the bridge before, but this time the damage was permanent. The blast echoed through the town of Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad and sent the remaining lanes and three civilian cars crashing into the Tigris River. In addition to the 10 deaths, at least eight people were injured.
Police reported the discovery of 15 unidentified bodies dumped in different parts of Baghdad, and the U.S. military announced the deaths of four more American soldiers on Monday.
Three were killed in a single explosion in northwestern Nineweh Province, while a fourth was killed during combat in western Baghdad.
The U.S. military said about 16,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops have begun a new operation in the north of Iraq aimed at insurgents who left their former strongholds in Baquba, north of Baghdad, because of sustained military operations in the area.
From NPR Reports and The Associated Press