Thursday, August 13, 2009

BAGHDAD (AP) — A double suicide bombing struck a cafe packed with young people in northwestern Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 17 people, officials said, in the latest attack against a minority community.

The blast occurred shortly after 5 p.m. in Sinjar, a city dominated by members of the Kurdish-speaking Yazidi religious group that is concentrated near the Syrian border. The officials gave the death toll on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information. They said some 20 people also have been wounded.

It was the latest in a series of devastating blasts in the area surrounding the volatile city of Mosul, which the U.S. military has dubbed the last urban stronghold of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Bombers also have targeted minority Shiite Turkomen and Shabaks in recent days, with more than 120 people killed since last Friday.

Baghdad also has faced a spate of high-profile attacks.

But the bombers in the area surrounding Mosul have mainly targeted ethnic minorities, indicating that insurgents are seeking out vulnerable, relatively unprotected targets to maximize casualties as the strapped Iraqi army focuses its efforts on more central areas.

The bloodshed has raised concerns about the ability of Iraqi forces to protect people as the U.S. military prepares to withdraw its forces by the end of 2011.

Thursday’s bombing came nearly two years after a village near Sinjar was hit by one of the worst insurgent attacks since the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Four suicide truck bombers exploded at about the same time in Qahataniya in August 2007, killing as many as 500 Yazidis.

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