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Iraqi Leaders Demand Inquiry Into Mosque Bombing

A view of the destroyed dome of the Shi'ite shrine, Imam Ali al-Hadi in Samarra (epa) 1 March 2006 -- Iraqi politicians are demanding an inquiry into allegations that the government did not act on a warning about a plan to bomb a major Shi'ite shrine.

Last week's destruction of the shrine in Samarra has sparked sectarian violence which has claimed hundreds of lives in reprisal attacks. Iraqi and U.S. officials have blamed the bombing on Al-Qaeda.

An independent Sunni member of parliament, Mithal al-Alusi, today called for the immediate establishment of a committee to check out reports that the government had received information of the attack beforehand.

A spokesperson for the main minority Sunni political bloc – the Iraqi Accordance Front -- said the government's apparent failure to act raised questions about its role in the incident.

At least 30 people were killed today in renewed violence in Baghdad. North of the capital, police say gunmen ambushed a police convoy, killing at least one policeman, injuring four, and abducting some 10 others.

(Reuters, AP, AFP)

Reactions To The Samarra Attack

Reactions To The Samarra Attack
Demonstrators in Baghdad on February 23 (epa)

Iraqi religious and government leaders, as well as international officials, condemned the February 22 bomb attack that wrecked the Golden Mosque, a major Shi'ite Muslim shrine in Samarra. Below is a selection of statements on the incident.

"This new ugly crime comes as a warning that there is a conspiracy against the Iraqi people to spark a war among brothers. God willing, we will not allow this.... We must cooperate and work together against this danger, the danger of civil war. This is the fiercest danger because it threatens our unity and our country with a devastating civil war." -- Iraqi President Jalal Talabani

"The timing of this crime indicates that one of its aims is to stall the political process and to hamper the negotiations on the formation of a national-unity government." -- President Talabani

"I announce on this occasion three days of mourning. I hope our heroic people will take more care on this occasion to bolster Islamic unity and protect Islamic brotherhood and Iraqi national brotherhood." -- Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari

"Oh honorable people of Samarra! We should stand as one, united in confronting terrorism.... This assault is an assault on all Muslims." -- Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabur

"They will fail to draw the Iraqi people into civil war as they have failed in the past." -- Iraqi National Security Adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i

"If the security systems are unable to secure necessary protection, the believers are able to do so with the might of God." -- Shi'ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

"We will not only condemn and protest but we will act against those militants. If the Iraqi government does not do its job to defend the Iraqi people we are ready to do so." -- Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, speaking through spokesman Abdel Hadi al-Darajee

(compiled by Reuters)

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