Dozens of Yazidi men 'massacred' by the Islamic State, women and children abducted

(AP)
An Iraqi refugee from Mosul stands outside her family's tent at a camp outside Irbil.

Members of the Islamic State (IS) targeted the village of Kocho Friday, murdering the Yazidi men and kidnapping the women and children.

The Muslim extremists told the villagers nearly two weeks ago to convert to Islam or be killed, and carried out their threat last weekend.

IS, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), has been driving out and murdering thousands of Iraqis and Syrians in an increasingly aggressive campaign. Last month, they forced religious minorities in Mosul to either convert to Sunni Islam, pay a tax, leave, or be killed. Hundreds of thousands fled the Nineveh Province capital, effectively removing the Christian presence from the city.

The Kocho villagers faced a similar ultimatum.

"When the residents refused to do this, the massacre took place," Yazidi politician Mahma Khalil told the Associated Press.

Survivors said that 80 Yazidi men were killed with assault rifles, and their wives and children were abducted. Those who escaped the attack fled into the mountains.

"They thought we were dead, and when they went away, we ran away," a wounded survivor reported. "We hid in a valley until sundown, and then we fled to the mountains."

Some of the men survived by pretending to be dead after they were shot.

Halgurd Hekmat, a Kurdish security official, said that the women and children were taken to Tal Afar, a city under IS control.

Two weeks ago, IS kidnapped hundreds of Yazidi women – targeting those under age 35.

Their family members contacted the Iraq Human Rights Ministry for help.

"We think that the terrorists by now consider them slaves and they have vicious plans for them," Ministry spokesman Kamil Amin told the AP. "We think that these women are going to be used in demeaning ways by those terrorists to satisfy their animalistic urges in a way that contradicts all the human and Islamic values."

A U.S. official speaking to AP under the condition of anonymity confirmed that the women had been kidnapped, and said the extremists intend to sell them or marry them off. The official said it is unclear how many women have been taken.

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