Author Topic: Explosion destroys dome of Shiite shrine  (Read 358 times)

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Explosion destroys dome of Shiite shrine
« on: February 24, 2006, 07:07:52 AM »


By: ZIAD KHALAF

A large explosion Wednesday heavily damaged the golden dome of one of Iraq's most famous Shiite religious shrines, sending protesters pouring into the streets. It was the third major attack against Shiite targets in as many days.

Police believed some people may be buried under the debris after the 6:55 a.m. explosion at the Askariya mosque but there were no confirmed figures. The shrine contains the tombs of two revered Shiite imams, both descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.

Tradition says the shrine, which draws Shiite pilgrims from throughout the Islamic world, is near the place where the last of the 12 Shiite imams, 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 is still alive and will return to restore justice to humanity. An attack at such an important religious shrine would constitute a grave assault on Shiite Islam at a time of rising sectarian tensions in Iraq.

A police officer who declined to give his name because he is not authorized to speak to media said armed men, with at least one wearing a uniform, broke inside the shrine before sunrise and seized the five policemen responsible for guarding the site.
The gunmen planted explosives and fled the area, the officer said.

Following the blast, U.S. and Iraqi forces surrounded the shrine and began searching houses in the area. The Sunni Endowments, a government organization that cares for Sunni mosques and shrines, also condemned the blast and said it was sending a delegation to Samarra to investigate what happened.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered near the shrine, waving Iraqi flags, Shiite religious banners and copies of the Muslim holy book, Quran. Shiite leaders in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood called for demonstrations against the blast.

"This criminal act aims at igniting civil strife," said Mahmoud al-Samarie, 28-year-old builder who was among the crowd in this city 60 miles north of Baghdad. "We demand an investigation so that the criminals who did this be punished. If the government fails to do so, then we will take arm and chase the people behind this attack."

Religious leaders at other mosques and shrines throughout the city denounced the attack in statements read over loudspeakers from minarets.

The shrine contains the tombs of the 10th and 11th imams, Ali al-Hadi who died in 868 A.D. and his son Hassan al-Askari who died in 874 A.D and was the father of the hidden imam.

The golden dome was completed in 1905.

Sadr calls on Iraqis to unite against aggression on Imam''s shrine



DAMASCUS, Feb 22 (KUNA) `” Leader of Sadrist Movement in Iraq Moqtada al-Sadr called on his countrymen on Wednesday to unite against those who are after sowing segregation and dissent among them.

This came in reaction against the terrorist blast at the shrine of Imam Ali Al-Hadi and Al-Hasan Al-Askari in Samarra.

He told newsmen here after cutting short his visit to neighboring Lebanon "my message to the Iraqi is unite and keep away from being dragged behind the plans to shatter their unity." Sadr called for pull out of the US forces from Iraq according to a timetable and urged the Iraqi parliament to vote for full withdrawal of foreign troops from his country.

He said that he is planning to return to his country despite the hurdles set to prevent him from doing so.

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