At least 80 killed in northern Iraq ‘massacre’

Most of the victims were members of the Yazidi religious minority, officials and a witness said

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Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) carried out a “massacre” in the northern Iraq village of Kocho, killing dozens of people, most of them members of the Yazidi religious minority, officials and a witness said Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

“They committed a massacre against the people,” Hoshyar Zebari, a senior Iraqi official, said, citing sources from the region and intelligence information.

“Around 80 of them have been killed,” he added.

The Yazidi minority in Iraq is an ethno-religious community that practices an ancient religion linked to Zoroastrianism.

Harim Kamal Agha, a senior official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party in Dohuk province, which borders Nineveh, put the death toll at 81 and said the militants had taken women to prisons they control, according to Agence France-Presse.

Meanwhile, Mohsen Tawwal, a Yazidi fighter, said by telephone that he saw a large number of bodies in the village.

“We made it into a part of Kocho village, where residents were under siege, but we were too late,” he said.

“There were corpses everywhere. We only managed to get two people out alive. The rest had all been killed,” he added.

Fighters from ISIS are carrying out attacks against minorities in Iraq's Nineveh province, prompting tens of thousands of people to flee.

In one of the most dramatic chapters of the conflict, the militants stormed the Sinjar area of northwestern Iraq earlier this month prompting tens of thousands of people, many of them Yazidis, to take refugee in the mountains.

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