IRAQ PRESIDENT WARNS OF 'MAJOR CONSPIRACY'
REVENGE ATTACKS SPREADING AS SHIA AND SUNNI LEADERS CALL FOR PEACE
After the blasts. US soldiers deployed to the mosque described the destruction as total.
One of the most famous mosques in the world now stands in ruins after bombers, disguised in Iraqi police uniforms, entered the Askariya mosque on Wednesday, in the Iraqi city of Samarra, tied up mosque workers and then set explosives before escaping.
Many Iraqis blame the US for refusing to allow militias to guard mosques and then providing sufficient security.
At least 90 Sunni mosques have been attacked with rocket propelled grenades and peppered with machine gun fire following the destruction of the Golden Mosque. Seven people, including three clerics, were killed in the revenge attacks.
From AlJazeera : "The Iraq president said extremists were pushing the country towards civil war, as many Shia lashed out at the United States.
"'We are facing a major conspiracy that is targeting Iraq's unity," said Jalal Talabani, the president and a Kurd. 'We should all stand hand in hand to prevent the danger of a civil war.'
"Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador, and the top American commander in Iraq said it was a 'critical moment for Iraq' and called the bombings a deliberate attempt to create sectarian tension.
"'This attack is a crime against humanity,' Khalilzad and General George W. Casey Jr. said in a joint statement."The massive bombing came less than 48 hours after US ambassador Khalilzad and US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, warned the Iraqis against forming a sectarian government that did not represent the interests of all Shia, Sunni and Kurds and threatened to cut further reconstruction funds.
Before the blasts, the 1200 year site of the golden mosque was regarded as one of the holiest in all Islam