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Iraq militants kill 80 in village, capture hundreds, reports say

IraqArmed ConflictsMosul (Iraq)
Islamic State militants kill over 80 Yazidi men in northern Iraq village, capture women, children, reports say
U.S. carries out fresh airstrikes overnight on Islamic State fighters in expansion of bombing, residents say

Islamic State militants killed scores of Yazidi men in a remote northern village and took hundreds of women and children captive, according to unconfirmed reports by Iraqi officials on Saturday.

The militants had surrounded the village of Kocho for 10 days before moving in on Friday and carrying out the killings, a Yazidi lawmaker said, citing accounts by two survivors.

The village contained about 300 men, but it was not immediately clear how many were killed. Iraqi news agencies reported that at least 81 died. About 600 women and children from the village have been taken to the town of Tal Afar, which is under the control of the militant group, the Yazidi lawmaker, Mahma Khalil, said in an interview.

The information could not be immediately verified because the area is inaccessible to journalists.

The reports came as residents said U.S. warplanes carried out airstrikes overnight against Islamic State fighters in the Mosul Dam area of northern Iraq. If confirmed, the airstrikes would represent an expansion of the bombing campaign the Obama administration began last week.

Residents said at least one airstrike hit a gathering of Islamic State fighters in the dam region, which includes a long lake controlled partly by the militant group and partly by pro-government Kurdish pesh merga forces.

Nineteen people were injured and brought for treatment to the militant-held city of Mosul, about 30 miles away, according to one resident who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals. The resident said that militants had been killed but he did not have further details.

Last week U.S. warplanes began carrying out airstrikes in the remote Mount Sinjar area, where thousands of Iraqis of the minority Yazidi sect had taken shelter from Islamic State militants, who view them as heretics. The U.S. bombing campaign allowed several thousand Yazidis to flee to safety but others are holed up on the mountain or in surrounding villages and are still besieged by the militants.

The Obama administration said the airstrikes and airdrops of humanitarian aid in the rugged mountain area had improved the situation of the Yazidis. But Iraqi officials said the attack in Kocho, about 10 miles from Mount Sinjar, showed that many people remained at risk.

“When President Obama said in his statement that things were stable for the Yazidis, this is not true,” Khalil said.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

7:46 a.m.: This post was updated with details on the reported killing of Yazidi men and capture of Yazidi women and children, and with information on reported U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State militants in the Mosul Dam area.

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