Samarra Shrine Bombed Again
The Askariya shrine in Samarra has been bombed again.
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. No casualties were reported.
The attack immediately stirred fears of a new explosion of Sunni-Shiite bloodshed. There are close ties between al-Qaida and some Iraqi Sunni militants. State television said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki quickly imposed an indefinite curfew on vehicle traffic and large gatherings in Baghdad as of 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Not good. My understanding, from an NPR report this morning, is that U.S. and Iraqi Shiite troops were guarding the shrine at the time. How sabateurs were able to pull this off despite that safeguard is unclear.
UPDATE: Added AP photo above: “This combination of 3 images shows the stages of destruction of the Askariya Shrine in Samarra, Iraq. From top to bottom: a Feb. 2004 photo of the shrine, the shrine in Feb. 2006 following an explosion which destroyed its dome, and a Wednesday, June 13, 2007 view after insurgents blew up its two minarets.”