mercredi 13 juin 2007


A watch tower of the famous Golden Dome Shiite shrine is left standing alone after insurgents blew up the two minarets in Samarra, Wednesday, June 13, 2007. The Askariya shrine's dome was destroyed on Feb. 22, 2006, in a bombing blamed on Sunni Muslim militants believed linked to al-Qaida that unleashed a wave of sectarian violence that continues to bloody Iraq. (AP Photo/Hameed Rasheed)

Famous Shitte shrine in Samarra attacked
By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer

Suspected al-Qaida insurgents on Wednesday destroyed the two minarets of the Askariya Shiite shrine in Samarra, authorities reported, in a repeat of a 2006 bombing that shattered its famous Golden Dome and unleashed a wave of retaliatory sectarian violence that still bloodies Iraq.

Police said the attack at about 9 a.m. involved explosives and brought down the two minarets, which had flanked the dome's ruins. Iraqiya state television reported the attack involved mortars. No casualties were reported.

A national police force under command of a major general was ordered to move immediately to Samarra, said an Interior Ministry official.

The local U.S. military headquarters had no immediate information about Wednesday'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.

An official close to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, citing intelligence reports, said the attack was likely the work of al-Qaida, whose militants have recently moved into Samarra from surrounding areas.

The official and others spoke on condition of anonymity, either because of the sensitivity of the matter or because they were not authorized to share the information.

The Askariya shrine's dome was destroyed on Feb. 22, 2006, in a bombing blamed on Sunni Muslim militants believed linked to al-Qaida. The mosque compound and minarets had remained intact but closed after that bombing.

Police imposed an indefinite curfew on the Sunni city, located 60 miles north of Baghdad, amid fears the bombing might further inflame the sectarian hatreds that swept Baghdad and other areas of Iraq in the months that followed the destruction of the shrine's dome.

After Wednesday's bombing, al-Maliki, a Shiite, went into urgent talks with Saleh al-Haidari, chairman of the Shiite Waqf, the government agency that looks after Shiite mosques and religious schools, according to officials in al-Maliki's office.

He later met with the interior and defense ministers, along with other top advisers and security commanders to discuss measures to contain any possible explosion of sectarian violence following the bombing, al-Maliki's office said.

The Askariya mosque contains the tombs of the 10th and 11th imams — Ali al-Hadi, who died in 868, and his son Hassan Askariya, who died in 874. Both are descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, 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.

After last year's bombing, the mosque was guarded by about 60 Federal Protection Service forces and 25 local Iraqi police who kept watch on the perimeter, according to Samarra city officials.

In the immediate aftermath of that bombing, U.S. officials and others had promised to help rebuild the landmark dome, completed in 1905, but no rebuilding has begun.

Aucun commentaire: