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Iraq | International

Explosions destroy Shia shrine minarets
by UK Independent (reposted)
Wednesday Jun 13th, 2007 6:22 AM
Wednesday, June 13, 2007 : Insurgents today blew up the two minarets of the famous Golden Dome Shiite shrine in Samarra, where a 2006 bombing unleashed a wave of sectarian violence that bloodied Iraq for more than a year.
The attack occurred at about 9 am local time, despite a police presence at the site, officials said.

The al-Askari shrine's dome was destroyed in February 2006 in a bombing blamed on al Qaida-linked militants. The mosque compound and minarets remained intact, and have been guarded since then by Iraqi police and commandos.

The US military headquarters in the area had no immediate information about today's attack. "We're only hearing initial reports ourselves, and we're looking into it," said Capt. Jennifer Nihill, a spokeswoman for Task Force Lightning.

The bombing could possibly unleash another wave of sectarian killings similar to the one that swept Baghdad and other areas of Iraq in the months that followed the destruction of the shrine's dome.

The sectarian killings have declined since February, at the start of a major US-Iraqi security push to pacify Baghdad.

Since the shrine's famous golden dome was destroyed in the bombing on February 22, 2006, the mosque has remained closed, the dome a mound of rubble.

The al-Askari mosque contains the tombs of the 10th and 11th imams - Ali al-Hadi, who died in 868, and his son Hassan al-Askari, who died in 874. Both are descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, and Shiites consider them to be among his successors.

The shrine also is near the place where the 12th imam, Mohammed al-Mahdi, disappeared. Al-Mahdi, known as the "hidden imam," was the son and grandson of the two imams buried in the Askariya shrine. Shiites believe he will return to Earth restore justice to humanity.

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§Blasts at Iraq's Askariya shrine
by Al Jazeera (reposted) Wednesday Jun 13th, 2007 6:27 AM
A series of blasts have destroyed two minarets at an already damaged Shia shrine in the northern Iraqi town of Samarra .

The explosions were heard in the vicinity of the Askariya mosque at about 9:00am (0500 GMT) on Wednesday. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

"The explosion targeted the two golden minarets. They have been damaged ... This is a criminal act which aims at creating sectarian strife," Saleh al-Haidari, the head of the Shia endowment in Iraq , said.

The two minarets toppled on Wednesday even as security forces were guarding the holy site.

Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq' s prime minister, has blamed the attack on al-Qaeda and supporters of Saddam Hussein , Iraq ’s former president.

Curfews

"How did the terrorists manage to go inside the shrine, plant the explosives and then blow it up, unless they have some people in the forces there helping them?"

Abdul Mahdi al-Mutiri, senior spokesman for the group loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr The Askariya mosque was already severely damaged after a February 2006 attack blamed on al-Qaeda fighters.

"I was near the shrine when I heard big explosions that sent a thick cloud of dust in the sky covering the entire area," said a witness.

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§Blast hits key Iraq Shia shrine
by BBC (reposted) Wednesday Jun 13th, 2007 6:29 AM
Images of the mosque before and after the explosions
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 at 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.

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by al-masakin
Wednesday Jun 13th, 2007 8:55 AM
samarra.13june07.jpg
samarra.13june07.jpg

Wed, 13 Jun 2007 15:56:35

Iranian President Ahmadinejad slams terrorist attack on the holy city of Samarra
Iran's President has slammed the terrorist attack on the holy shrines in the city of Samarra, blaming the occupiers for the 'brutal act.'

"Unfortunately, under the aegis of the occupiers, the terrorists have once again bombed the holy shrines in Samarra and desecrated the sacred site," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday in Semnan.

"We advise you to be human if you don't believe in religion," Ahmadinejad said.

"We don't want your help. Just don't harm us," he said, warning the occupier not to close their exit door to withdraw from Iraq by such terrorist acts.

If it is closed, Iraq will turn into a graveyard for the occupiers, Ahmadinejad warned.

Such terrorist acts will just exacerbate the situation for the US-led occupiers, he concluded.

HA/IS
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=13048§ionid=351020101
by al-masakin
Wednesday Jun 13th, 2007 8:57 AM
Wed, 13 Jun 2007 12:56:50
Iraq's senior Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr ‎
Iraq's senior Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr has urged his supporters to exercise calm after militants attacked the holy shrine in Samarra again.

In a statement issued in the holy city of Najaf south of Baghdad on Wednesday, al-Sadr also called for peaceful demonstrations following the blasts, a repeat of a February 2006 bombing that destroyed the shrine's golden dome.

In his statement, the Iraqi Shia cleric insisted that no Sunni Arab could have been responsible for the Wednesday's bombing.

He called for a three-day mourning to mark the destruction of the minarets of the Shia Askariya shrine in Samarra.

"We declare a three-day mourning period...and shout Allahu Akbar (God is greater) from Sunni and Shia mosques,'' said al-Sadr.

Meanwhile, a senior Sadr movement official from Mehdi Army, loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, also called on people to calm down and avoid any sectarian violence.

"Our reaction is the opposite of what the occupation wants. We are calling on our people to show restraint, unity and to reject sectarian strife. We are also urging them to exercise calm," Abdul Mahdi al-Mutiri said.

He held the US occupation forces and the Iraqi government responsible for the attack.

"This is a terrorist act. How did the terrorists manage to go inside the shrine, plant the explosives and then blow it up, unless they have some people in the forces there helping them?" he argued.

MM/BGH
by al-masakin
Wednesday Jun 13th, 2007 9:02 AM
dust.clearing.samarra.jpg
dust.clearing.samarra.jpg

Wed, 13 Jun 2007 14:26:05
An informed source at Iran's Embassy in Iraq has said Baathist hands are involved in the attack on the holy shrine of two Shia Imams in Samarra.

"Baathist supporters of former Iraqi dictator Saddam have detonated the two minarets of the shrine in an insulting and shameless act," the source told Mehr news agency in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

"It is difficult to come and go into Samarra because of the tight security following the blast so we don't know the exact level of damages or casualties," he added.

Wednesday's terrorist attack follows a February 2006 bombing that destroyed the shrine's golden dome.

The 2006 attack, believed to have been carried out by al-Qaeda militants, angered followers of the Shia faith worldwide.

MJ/MR/BGH
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=13039§ionid=351020101
by al-masakin
Wednesday Jun 13th, 2007 9:07 AM
Wed, 13 Jun 2007 19:29:26
Grand Ayatollah Sistani, Iraq's most prominent Shia cleric urges calm after the attack on the Askariya shrine
Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's top Shia cleric has urged the Iraqi people to stay calm after militants attacked the Asksriye shrine in Samarra.

"Ayatollah Sistani condemns the attack and urges calm and not to do acts of reprisal against Sunnis," said his spokesman, Hamed Khafaf on Wednesday.

Meanwhile the Iraqi government's spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh has said "it appeared that the mosque's golden minarets had been hit by missiles" but the US military, quoting police at the scene, said they were destroyed in near simultaneous explosions, heard coming from inside the mosque compound.

The Askariye shrine was previously attacked in February 2006 and a large part of its dome was destroyed.

The 2006 blast resulted in religious violence that killed hundreds in Iraq.

MMA/KB
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=13057§ionid=351020201