FA ME/ Sources: Ishtar TV (pictures) & New York Times.
Some 144 college students, all of them Christians, were wounded Sunday and another Iraqi was killed when a convoy of school buses was attacked in a double bombing on the outskirts of the northern city of Mosul, according to a security official.
“We were going for our education and they presented us with bombs,” said Jamil Salahuddin Jamil, 25, a sophomore geography major, who was on board the lead bus. “I still do not know what they want from Christians.”
The attack was a reminder of the threats in a still-disputed part of the country, claimed by Kurds and Arabs, where a resilient insurgency remains active and where American soldiers still man checkpoints.
The convoy of about 20 buses was taking students from Christian towns and villages in the Nineveh Plain, between Mosul and the semiautonomous Kurdistan region, back to classes at the University of Mosul.
The buses were crossing a joint checkpoint manned by American, Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers, one of about two dozen such checkpoints that have been operating since the start of the year along the internal border between the semiautonomous Kurdish region and the rest of Iraq. The joint operation is aimed at dialing down tensions between Arabs and Kurds and to prevent extremists from exploiting the rifts.
The buses were escorted by Iraqi soldiers because of past threats and attacks against Christians in the area, according to a senior security official in Mosul who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the attack with the news media.
After the first buses crossed the checkpoint, a car bomb parked on the shoulder of the highway blew up in their path. Shortly afterward, a roadside bomb exploded, the official said.
About five buses were hit by the bombs, witnesses said.
The attack happened in an industrial area known as Kokjali, between the checkpoint and an Iraqi Army checkpoint less than a mile ahead, the official said. The owner of a nearby car repair shop was killed and at least 70 students were wounded, some severely, he said.
Mr. Jamil, who spoke from his hospital bed in the town of Qaraqosh, halfway between Mosul and the Kurdish regional capital, Erbil, said one of his classmates lost her leg in the attack and two others were blinded.