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Survivor tells how Isis gunmen killed scores of defenceless villagers

By Joe Churcher and AP

Islamic extremists have shot dead scores of Yazidi men in Iraq, lining them up in small groups and opening fire with assault rifles before seizing their wives and children.

A Yazidi politician cited the mass killing in Kocho as evidence that his people were still at risk after a week of US and Iraqi air strikes on the militants.

Meanwhile, warplanes targeted insurgents around a large dam that was captured by the Islamic State extremist group earlier this month. It's believed that the Mosul dam was under the near-complete control of Kurdish fighters last night.

The US began strikes against the Islamic State extremist group a week ago, in part to prevent the massacre of tens of thousands of Yazidis in northern Iraq, who fled the militants by scrambling up a barren mountain, where they became stranded. Most were eventually able to escape with help from Kurdish fighters.

Islamic State fighters surrounded the nearby village 12 days ago and demanded that its Yazidi residents convert or die. On Friday afternoon, they moved in.

The militants told people to gather in a school, promising they would be allowed to leave Kocho after their details were recorded, said an eyewitness and the brother of the Kocho mayor, Nayef Jassem.

The militants separated the men from the women and children under 12. They took men and male teens away in groups of a few dozen each and shot them on the edge of the village, according to a wounded man who escaped by feigning death.

The fighters then walked among the bodies, using pistols to finish off anyone who appeared to still be alive, the 42-year-old man said from an area where he was hiding.

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

Meanwhile, David Cameron has said the advance of Islamic State extremists poses a "clear danger" to the future safety of Britain's streets. The Prime Minister said it was "hardly surprising" that voters were wary of any re-engagement in the country, more than a decade after the US-led invasion which ended in the present chaos.

But while it was right not to "send armies to fight or occupy", he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph, the threat posed by the Islamists was so great that some military intervention was fully justified.

If Islamic State succeeded in creating a wide-ranging caliphate encompassing several countries across the region "we would be facing a terrorist state on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a Nato member.

"This is a clear danger to Europe and to our security," he wrote.

"It is a daunting challenge. But it is not an invincible one, as long as we are now ready and able to summon up the political will to defend our own values and way of life with the same determination, courage and tenacity as we have faced danger before in our history."

His comments came after the Church of England attacked the Government for having no "coherent or comprehensive approach" to combat the rise of Islamic extremism.

In a strongly-worded attack on Mr Cameron's handling of the Iraq crisis – backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury – the Bishop of Leeds said "many" senior clergy were seriously concerned.

The Rt Rev Nicholas Baines has written to the Prime Minister questioning whether there is any long-term strategy and criticising a "growing silence" over the fate of the plight of persecuted Christians.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph