Iraq: another Shiite shrine bombed

From DPA, Feb. 26:

A bomb blast Sunday at a Shiite shrine in the southern city of Basra injured four people, a security source said.

The incident at a shrine to Imam Ali in central Basra, 550 kilometres south of Baghdad, occurred before noon, the source said.

Basra is one of the provinces not under a traffic ban imposed Friday by authorities on the central provinces of Babil, Baghdad, Salahaddin and Diyala. The ban was extended until Monday.

The ban was imposed in the strife that followed the bombing last week of a Shiite shrine in Samarra.

Meanwhile, in Hillah, 100 kilometres south of Baghdad, a car bomb exploded Sunday morning at a bus terminal killing at least four and injuring six, according to initial police reports.

The police had originally spoken of ‘dozens’ of deaths and injuries.

Hillah is the provincial capital of Babil province where a traffic ban has been imposed until Monday. The ban has also been imposed in the other three central Iraqi provinces of Baghdad, Salahaddin and Diyala.

Police found the corpses of three civilians Sunday in north-east of Fallujah, 70 kilometres west of Baghdad. The hands of the three were tied and they appeared to have been killed by gunshot.

But here is a much-needed glimmer of hope. From IslamOnline, Feb. 27:

Iraqi Sunnis Rebuild Destroyed Shiite Shrine

In a gesture of goodwill, Iraqi Sunnis in the northern city of Samarra are working tirelessly to rebuild the Golden Mosque, one of the holiest Shiite shrines which was devastated in an odious explosion last week.

“The initiative came soon after the explosion in solidarity with our Shiite brothers,” Abu Oqba Al-Samarrai told Monday, February27 , after collecting golden pieces of the mosque’s destroyed dome.

He said people of different age groups have volunteered to remove the ruble in a love demonstration.

“Elderly, women, children and men of [predominantly Sunni] Samarra rush to the tomb to remove the debris, using shovels and manual carriages,” he explained.

Women provided food and water to exhausted men after a long day of hard work to get the job done as soon as possible.

“The men chant in unison Islamic songs to kill time,” Samarrai said.

More than 200 people have been killed since Wednesday, February22 , when the Golden Mosque was destroyed in a bombing that sparked a wave of tit-for-tat killings and led the defense minister to warn of the danger of “endless civil war.”

The main Sunni political coalition announced on Thursday, February23 , boycotting talks on government formation after the sectarian attacks, while Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr ordered protection for Sunni mosques in predominantly Shiites areas.

On Saturday, February25 , Shiite scholars from the Sadr and Khalsi schools met with Sunni leaders in Baghdad’s premier Sunni mosque Abu Hanifa, where they both prayed under the leadership of prominent Sunni imam Abdel Salam Al-Qubaissi.

The meeting also announced the formation of a commission to “determine the reasons for the crisis with a view to solving it,” while also calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops.


Chairman of the Sunni Waqfs Ahmad Abdul Ghaffor Al-Samarrai has declared that his body will donate two billion Iraqi dinars ($1, 350million) to reconstruct the shrine..

The Shiite shrine contains the tombs of the10 th and11 th imams, Ali Al-Hadi, who died in 868 A.D., and his son Hassan Al-Askari, who died in 874 A.D.

Tradition says the shrine, which draws Shiite pilgrims from around the world, is near the place where the last of the 12 Shiite imams, Muhammad Al-Mahdi, disappeared.

Shiites believe he is still alive and will return to restore justice to humanity.

Shiite scholar Jawad Al-Khalsi has said the shrine bombing was a planned and a specialist work.

The Iraqi capital returned to relative normality on Monday with the end of an extended curfew that had seen a traffic ban to reduce the threat of further violence.

Residents were moving freely, with cars back on the roads under the direction of traffic police.

See our last post on Iraq.