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Iraq: Bombings of Kurdish Headquarters Are War Crimes

The suicide bombings at Kurdish party headquarters in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil on February 1 were part of a systematic policy by Iraqi insurgents to target civilians.

The nearly simultaneous attacks killed at least 90 persons in the Irbil headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The bombers blew themselves up in auditoriums crowded with people celebrating the Muslim festival of `Id al-Adha.

Those killed included several senior KDP and PUK regional officials. No individuals or groups claimed responsibility.

“The timing indicates that these attacks were meant to kill and maim large numbers of civilians as well as local political leaders,” said Joe Stork, acting executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division. “Attacks that systematically and indiscriminately target civilians are crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

Insurgents previously carried out numerous car bombings in Baghdad and other cities that targeted or caused disproportionate harm to civilians. Human Rights Watch called on Iraqi political groups and community leaders, including those opposing the United States-led military occupation, to denounce such attacks unequivocally, and to support efforts to bring to justice those responsible for planning and ordering them.

Human Rights Watch has also condemned as war crimes and crimes against humanity Palestinian suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians.

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