Thursday, February 23, 2006


Dozens die amid Iraqi shrine fury.

Many Sunni mosques have been vandalised in Baghdad. More than 100 people have been killed in Iraq in the aftermath of a bomb attack on a key Shia Muslim shrine. Fifty bullet-riddled bodies were found in Baghdad overnight and 47 factory workers were killed at a roadblock on the outskirts of the capital. Iraq's leaders are warning about the dangers of a civil war, amid anger over the bombing of the shrine in Samarra. Sunni Arab politicians have suspended coalition talks in protest at reprisals against dozens of their mosques. "We are facing a major conspiracy that is targeting Iraq's unity," President Jalal Talabani said.
I hope both sides acknowledge that whoever executed this act of religious terrorism is seeking only to fan the flames of hatred - Chris, Glasgow.

Shrine blast: Have your say
Analysis: Civil war nightmare
Samarra: Pilgrimage centre

"We should all stand hand in hand to prevent the danger of a civil war."
The 47 factory workers were killed at a roadblock in Nahrawan, on the outskirts of Baghdad. The victims, aged between 20 and 50, had been travelling home from work in a convoy of buses. At the checkpoint, they were forced out of their vehicles and shot dead. It is not clear whether the murders are linked to the attack on the shrine or whether they are part of the general insurgency. However, the government has cancelled all police and army leave and extended the curfew in Baghdad to deal with the violence. The attack on the al-Askari shrine takes the danger of a civil conflict to a new level, which will be seen as a direct assault on the identity and rights of an entire community, the BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen says.

A civil war would destroy the chances of the elected Shia-led government which is still being formed following December's election, and could lead to the break-up of the country, he says. In other developments: A prominent Arab TV reporter and two of her crew are killed in Samarra, where they had gone to cover the attack Gunmen kill one person in a Sunni mosque in the town of Baquba, where a bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol kills 12 people At least 11 people are killed after gunmen masquerading as police abducted them from a jail in the southern city of Basra.

Atwar Bahjat was a well-known face on Arabic television. The journalists killed in Samarra worked for the Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV. Correspondent Atwar Bahjat's body was among the three found early on Thursday about 15km (10 miles) north of the city. The journalists had gone to Samarra to report on Wednesday's bombing, which destroyed the 100-year-old golden dome of the shrine. Protesters in several cities took to the streets following the bombing, some shouting anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans. "Death to America which brought us terrorism," they chanted in Samarra.

Iraqi political and religious leaders have called for calm. But a spokesman for Iraq's top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said the anger may be hard to contain. "You wouldn't expect an abrupt or sudden calm, because there are some people whose reaction you can't control," London-based spokesman Fadel Bahar al-Eloum told the BBC.


Blogger myotherfellow said...

I am unsurprised by the violent reaction to this despicable crime, because the fundamental dispute between Shiites and Sunnis outrageously spawns hatred, nonstop. I am unsurprised, therefore, by the reprisal attacks at Sunni mosques.

As a Shiite, I am shocked, however, at the murder of three Sunni journalists in Samarra.

2:27 am  

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