An Iraqi policeman inspects the wreckage of a car used in a suicide bombing on a road in southern Kirkuk, 290 kilometres north of Baghdad on Tuesday. ((Emad Matti/Associated Press))

In one of the deadliest attacks in Iraq since November, four suicide car bombers blew themselves up in a housing complex in northwest Iraq on Tuesday, killing dozens of Kurds who belong to a religious sect.

The Iraqi military said that at least 175 people were killed and 200 others wounded in the devastating strike that apparently targeted a Yazidi community, an ancient and mostly Kurdish sect that worships an angel figure that some Muslims and Christians consider to be the devil.

The death toll would make Tuesday's bombings the largest loss of life in an Iraqi attack since Nov. 23, when mortar rounds and five car bombs devastated Sadr City, a Shia neighbourhood in Baghdad.

Dhakil Qassim, the mayor of Sinjar, a town located near the site of the bombings, blamed the "terrorist act" on the group al-Qaeda in Iraq, citing what he said were Kurdish government intelligence reports.

He said the bombings intended to kill "poor Yazidis who have nothing to do with the armed conflict," and added that al-Qaeda militants were "very active" in the area near the Syrian border.

At least 30 homes were destroyedin the blasts.

According to Iraq Army Capt. Mohammed Ahmed and Abdul-Rahman al-Shimiri, who is the top government official in the area, the bombs on Tuesday tore through communities near Qahataniya, 121 kilometres west of Mosul, which is Iraq's third-largest city.

U.S. helicopters airlifted wounded to a hospital near the Turkish border and north of Qahataniya, police said.

With files from the Associated Press