Islamic State (IS) 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 yesterday.
The bodies were reportedly found in a mass grave in the wake of IS's push towards the Sinjar mountain range, where tens of thousands of Kurdish-speaking refugees have been trapped to the point of starvation.
Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said his government had evidence that 500 Yazidi civilians had been killed so far, and that some of the victims had been buried alive. A further 300 Yazidi women have been kidnapped as slaves, he added.
The Isis offensive against the Yazidi people has been described as “genocide in [both] the literal and legalistic sense”, and the UN estimates that at least 56 children have died of dehydration alone in the Sinjar mountain camps.
The women captured are under 35-years-old, and are being held in schools in Iraq's second city, Mosul, said the spokesman for Iraq's Human Rights Ministry, Kamil Amin.
Amin told reporters he believes the women are likely to be considered slaves by the militants who have “vicious plans…in a way that contradicts all the human and Islamic values.”
Thousands of Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking minority following an ancient faith rooted in Zoroastrianism, fled their homes a week ago when Islamic State (IS) militants attacked the town of Sinjar vowed to eliminate them.
Many of them have since been stranded in the nearby mountain range, with no food and water in searing temperatures.
The Yazidis, dubbed "devil worshippers" by IS militants because of their unorthodox blend of beliefs and practices, are a small and closed community, one of Iraq's most vulnerable minorities.