Islamists Shot This Yezidi Man and Tried to Bury Him Alive

Khalid Murad barely survived the Kocho massacre

Islamists Shot This Yezidi Man and Tried to Bury Him Alive Islamists Shot This Yezidi Man and Tried to Bury Him Alive
Kocho village in northern Iraq was home to 1,700 people from the Yezidi religious group. But when Islamic State militants captured Kocho, just 150... Islamists Shot This Yezidi Man and Tried to Bury Him Alive

Kocho village in northern Iraq was home to 1,700 people from the Yezidi religious group. But when Islamic State militants captured Kocho, just 150 residents escaped.

Militants killed at least 300 people. Some are missing. The Islamists are holding the rest.

Thirty-two-year-old Khalid Murad is one who lived. Barely.

Murad says that militants attacked the main Yezidi town of Sinjar and surrounding villages on Aug. 3. Many of the Yezidi men grabbed weapons and prepared to protect their families.

“In Kocho village, ISIS told Yezidis to put down our guns,” Murad recalls. “‘We will not fight you because we came here to fight Peshmerga forces, not you—you are peaceful people,’ they told us.”

“Yezidi men in Kocho had no choice but to gave up, because they were surrounded by ISIS fighters,” Murad explains.

According to Murad, Islamic State prevented villagers from leaving Kocho from Aug. 3 to the 15th. And on the 15th, the militants ordered everyone to go to the village’s school.

“When we went there, ISIS separated women and kids from men and took them to the second floor,” Murad says. “First they took our money, mobile phone and valuables.”

Khalid Murad. Vager Saddullah photo

Then they started taking the men. “Each time, they were taking groups of 40 men by car and shooting them,” he says.

Soon it was Murad’s turn.

The militants killed seven of Murad’s brothers. Murad took two bullets in one arm and one bullet in his leg. He was hurt … but alive.

“ISIS fighters went to bring a bulldozer to drop soil on us,” Murad explains. “While they were on their way, me and another friend ran away and hid behind the trees until the dark.”

“While we were waiting in the darkness, we could hear the wounded screaming as the soil was being dropped on them. After they shot them, there were some people alive but they had been shot in their legs and that prevented them from running.”

Despite their wounds, they made a run for it under the cover of darkness. They reached Mount Sinjar nine hours later. There they met Peshmerga and Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters. Murad says fighters cleaned their wounds and took them to Iraqi Kurdistan through Syria.

Today he is recovering at Shabanike Hospital in the Kurdish town of Zakho near the Wargehe Delal refugee camp.

“We know that our families are in ISIS hands in Tal Afar, but there is no chance to rescue them,” Murad says. “We ask the U.N. to help Yezidis and to find a solution for all those people who have been taken by ISIS.”

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