Baghdad: The Islamic State (IS) militants have freed 234 kidnapped men and women from the Iraqi Yazidi minority community, the Kurdish regional government said Monday.
"Some 234 members of Yazidi community, including 150 females and many children, have been released after months in captivity by the IS militants," Nouri Othman Sinjari, spokesman for the Kurdistan regional government, told Xinhua over phone.
The release of the kidnapped Yazidis was a difficult and complicated task, as some were freed through mediation of tribal leaders and others by paying ransom to their abductors from the IS militants, Sinjari said without giving more details.
Since early August, hundreds of Yazidi minority members have been killed or kidnapped when IS militants seized the town of Sinjar, some 100 km west of Nineveh's provincial capital city of Mosul.
The militants also reportedly kidnapped up to 500 Yazidi women, taking them to bases in neighbouring Syria and in the militants-seized city of Mosul, some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
The Yazidi community is primarily Kurdish. The religion of the Yazidis incorporates elements of many faiths. As a result of some of their beliefs, many Muslims and non-Muslims have come to see Yazidis as "infidels."
This has led to violent attacks by extremist Islamist groups against them.
There are about 600,000 Yazidis remaining in Iraq with roughly 80 percent of them living in the towns of Sinjar and Bashika in Nineveh province.
After the advancement of the IS militants in northern Iraq, some 150,000 Yazidis, fearing atrocities, fled their homes and went to the nearby Sinjar mountain, where many reportedly died of thirst and hunger.