A leading Yazidi politician said on Saturday that he was preparing to make a last stand in his home village in northern Iraq, as members of the religious minority warned that another massacre of civilians by the extremist militants of the Islamic State showed that the crisis was far from over.
The comment came a day after US President Barack Obama said it was no longer necessary to carry out a military evacuation of Mount Sinjar – where tens of thousands of people had been trapped by militants earlier – since many people had managed to escape following US air strikes.
But a leading Yazidi activist, Dr Mirza Dinnayi, who had spoken to Kocho's senior official before the massacre, claimed there were still 25,000 people in the area and described Obama's remarks as “a very big mistake”.
When the US said that the siege of Sinjar was effectively over, “this encouraged Islamic State to attack 24 hours later”, he told Jonathan Rugman, of Channel 4 News. “We had a massacre yesterday [and] could have another.”
Citing sources from neighbouring villages, he said 350 people were killed in Kocho by the militants and 1,000 women taken captive. A Kurdish official said a total of about 400 people had been killed on Friday and yesterday.
A 42-year-old man who was wounded in the attack, but who escaped by playing dead, told the Associated Press that the militants had taken the men away in groups of a few dozen and shot them with assault rifles on the outskirts of the village. The fighters then walked among the bodies, firing again at anyone who appeared to still be alive.
In the village of Ba'adra, 25km away from the front line, Mohma Khalil Hasan, a Yazidi who is an MP in the Kurdistan Democratic Party, was preparing for battle. Some people have fled Ba'adra, just north of Mosul, but his family and a number of others decided to stay. He said he was “going to die here” if it came to that.
Hasan said he had heard of children being sold by militants to be raised by Sunni Muslim families. “They are selling our daughters for two dollars. They bring the girls to the towns like Mosul under Arab control [to sell].”
He said US air strikes were having an effect and urged the UK, France and Germany to join in.