WIRING OF EXPLOSIVES ESTIMATED TO HAVE TAKEN AT LEAST TWELVE HOURS
BAGHDAD (AFP) - The bombing of a revered Shiite shrine which sparked a wave of violence in Iraq was the work of specialists, Construction Minister Jassem Mohammed Jaafar said Friday, adding that the placing of the explosives must have taken at least 12 hours.
"According to initial reports, the bombing was technically well conceived and could only have been carried out by specialists," the minister told Iraqia state television.
Jaafar, who toured the devastated thousand-year-old shrine on Thursday a day after the bombing which brought down its golden dome, said "holes were dug into the mausoleum's four main pillars and packed with explosives."
"Then the charges were connected together and linked to another charge placed just under the dome. The wires were then linked to a detonator which was triggered at a distance," the minister added.
To drill into the pillars would have taken at least four hours per pillar, he also estimated.
Damage to the mausoleum, holding the tombs of the 10th and 11th Shiite Imams, was extensive.
"The dome was completely wrecked and collapsed on the tombs which were covered over by debris. The shrine's foundations were also affected as 40 percent of the power of the blast was directed inwards," he added.
FROM ISLAM ONLINE : BAGDAD, February 26, 2006 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 IslamOnline.net Monday, February 27, 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, February 22, 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, February 23, 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, February 25, 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 ($1,350 million) to reconstruct the shrine..
The Shiite 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.
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.