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Iraq on edge following second bombing of Shiite Al-Askariya mosque
Wednesday, June 13, 2007 :The minarets or prayer towers of the Al-Askariya mosque in the city of Samarra, one of the most revered shrines of Shiite Islam, were reduced to rubble yesterday in an act designed to unleash a new wave of sectarian carnage across Iraq. Details of how the attack was able to be carried out are vague at this point.
The mosque was supposed to be one of the most carefully defended locations in Iraq due to its religious significance to Shiites and the violence that followed the bombing of its golden dome on February 22, 2006.
In last year’s bombing, alleged Sunni Muslim extremists associated with Al Qaeda overwhelmed the mosque’s guards and rigged explosives in a manner to bring down the dome—one of the landmarks of modern Iraq. The response was a frenzy of Shiite revenge. Militias linked to the main Shiite political parties in the Iraqi government carried out a wave of killings and destruction against Sunni communities. As many as 100 Sunni mosques were bombed and thousands of people were slaughtered by death squads. Shiite members of the Iraqi army and police either permitted or joined in the atrocities. Sunni extremists responded with murders of their own and suicide bombings, which indiscriminately targeted Shiite civilian areas.
Sectarian killings peaked in late 2006, when over 3,000 people were being murdered a month. The United Nations estimates that over 600,000 Iraqis of both denominations fled their homes from February to the beginning of 2007 to escape from the violence being perpetrated by rival religious fanatics.Read More