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 Another Samarrah Bombing

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Birthday : October 14 1988
Registration date : 2007-02-01

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PostSubject: Another Samarrah Bombing   Another Samarrah Bombing Icon_minitimeJune 14th 2007, 2:12 pm

Blast hits key Iraq Shia shrine
Smoke near the damaged al-Askari shrine in Samarra (13 June 2007)
Two minarets stood either side of the shrine before the attack
The two minarets of the al-Askari shrine in Iraq, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam, have been destroyed by two explosions.

According to witnesses the minarets collapsed completely after being hit by bomb blasts around 0900 (0500 GMT).

The shrine houses one of two tombs in Samarra for revered Shia imams.

The 2006 bombing of the shrine's dome is widely believed to have set off a continuing spiral of sectarian violence in which many thousands have died.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says there are obvious fears this latest attack might give it yet further impetus.

The head of the Shia endowment foundation said the minarets had been blown up by "extremists".

"It is a terrorist attack aimed at sparking sectarian violence," Sheikh Saleh al-Haidari told the AFP news agency.

A senior government official said it was very bad news for Iraq.

Appeal for calm

After the explosions, police in the shrine's compound reportedly fired into the air to keep away angry Shia who were demonstrating outside.

One of the four major Shia shrines in Iraq
Contains tombs of two of the 12 revered Shia imams - Ali al-Hadi and al-Hassan al-Askari
First developed during the 10th and 11th Centuries
Two 36m-high golden minarets destroyed in June 2007
68m-high golden dome blown up in February 2006

Samarra: Pilgrimage centre

An immediate curfew was imposed in Samarra and reinforcements from the Iraqi army and police were ordered to move to the area immediately.

Iraq's prime minister, Nouri Maliki, also asked the US military to send additional forces to the outskirts of the city and to put its troops in Baghdad on high alert to stop a possible upsurge in sectarian violence.

A state of emergency has also been declared in Najaf, site of another important Shia shrine, where the radical Shia cleric, Muqtada Sadr, has declared a three-day period of mourning.

"What did the government do to protect the tombs?" he asked in a statement.

Mr Sadr also called for peaceful demonstrations "to show that the only enemy of Iraq is the occupation, and that's why everyone must demand its departure".

Pilgrimage centre

Samarra, a Sunni Muslim stronghold 100km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, has long been a centre of the armed insurgency against US troops and the Shia-dominated Iraqi administration.

Explosions have devastated one of the key Shia shrines in Iraq

Enlarge Image

The al-Askari shrine is of immense spiritual importance for Shia Muslims throughout the world and has attracted millions of pilgrims over the centuries.

Part of the Imam Ali al-Hadi mausoleum, the shrine contains the remains of the 10th and 11th imams, reputed to be direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.

Imam Ali al-Hadi died in 868 AD and his son, al-Hassan al-Askari, died in 874 AD.

The mosque's two minarets had escaped damage when its famous golden dome was destroyed by a huge explosion in February last year.

That attack was widely believed to be the work of Sunni militants from the al-Qaeda movement, some of whom were later arrested.

Our correspondent says there are bound to be questions about how such an obvious and significant target could have been attacked again.
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