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111 Killed In Revenge For Mosque Attack

Whatever else you can say about Moslems, they have the oddest ways of showing their reverence for shrines.

From the terrorist enabling Associated Press:

Violence After Mosque Attack Kills 111

By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Gunmen shot dead 47 civilians and left their bodies in a ditch near Baghdad Thursday as militia battles and sectarian reprisals followed the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine. Sunni Arabs suspended their participation in talks on a new government.

At least 111 people were believed killed in two days of rage unleashed by Wednesday’s attack on the Askariya shrine in Samarra, a mostly Sunni Arab city 60 miles north of Baghdad.

The hardline Sunni Clerical Association of Muslim Scholars said 168 Sunni mosques had been attacked around the country, 10 imams killed and 15 abducted since the shrine attack. The Interior Ministry said it could only confirm figures for Baghdad, where it had reports of 19 mosques attacked, one cleric killed and one abducted.

The bullet-ridden bodies of a prominent female correspondent and two other journalists who had been covering Wednesday’s explosion in Samarra were found on the outskirts of the city.

The sectarian violence threatened to derail U.S. plans to form a new national unity government representing all factions, including Sunni Arabs, who form the backbone of the insurgency.

President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, summoned political leaders to a meeting Thursday. But the biggest Sunni faction in the new parliament, the Iraqi Accordance Front, refused to attend, citing the attacks on Sunni mosques.

"It is illogical to negotiate with parties that are trying to damage the political process," said Tariq al-Hashimi, a leader of the Accordance Front.

President Bush said the bombing was intended to divide the Iraqi people.

"The act was an evil act," Bush said. "The destruction of a holy site is a political act intending to create strife. So I am pleased with the voices of reason that have spoken out."

Bush said the U.S. was committed to helping rebuild the mosque.

As the country veered toward sectarian war, the government extended a curfew in Baghdad and Salaheddin province for two days. All leaves for Iraqi soldiers and police were canceled and personnel ordered to report to their units.

The U.S. military said four soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, were killed Wednesday when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb near Hawijah.

Three others from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division died when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb Wednesday near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad.

Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr accused the Iraqi government and U.S. forces of failing to protect the Samarra shrine, also known as the Golden Mosque, and ordered his militia to defend Shiite holy sites across Iraq.

"If the government had real sovereignty, then nothing like this would have happened," al-Sadr said in a statement. "Brothers in the Mahdi Army must protect all Shiite shrines and mosques, especially in Samarra."

The destruction of the gleaming dome of the 1,200-year-old Askariya shrine sent crowds of angry Shiites into the streets across Iraq. The crowds included members of al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias that the United States wants abolished.

A spokesman for the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars blamed the violence on the country’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and other Shiite religious leaders who called for demonstrations against the shrine attack.

Abdul-Salam Al-Kubaisi also said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad may also have enflamed the situation when he warned Monday that the United States would not continue to support institutions run by sectarian groups with links to armed militias. Sunnis accuse Shiite militiamen operating in the ranks of the Interior Ministry, which controls the police, of widespread abuses.

"Without doubt, these statements mobilized all the Shiites," al-Kubaisi said. "It made them ready to go down to the street at any moment."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Thursday that he suspects Al-Qaida in Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was responsible for the mosque attack.

"It has the hallmarks of their nihilism

," Straw told a news conference in London. He called on leaders of Iraq’s religious communities to defuse tensions caused by the attack.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said the attack was "an act of desperation as well as desecration."

In Diyala, a religiously mixed province northeast of Baghdad, 47 bodies were found in a ditch. Officials said the victims appeared to have been stopped by gunmen, forced out of their cars and shot in an industrial area near Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. Most were aged between 20 and 50 and appeared to include both Sunnis and Shiites, police said.

Dozens more bodies were found dumped at sites in Baghdad and the Shiite heartland in southern Iraq, many of them with their hands bound and shot execution-style.

Fighting broke out Thursday afternoon in Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad, between al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia and Sunni militiamen. Two civilians were killed and five militiamen were injured, police Capt. Rashid al-Samaraie said.

Gunmen fired automatic weapons and grenades at a Sunni mosque in Baqouba, killing one mosque employee and injuring two others, police said. Assailants also set fire to two Sunni mosques in eastern Baghdad, police said.

Thousands of demonstrators carrying Shiite flags and banners marched through parts of Baghdad, Karbala, Kut, Tal Afar and the Shiite holy city of Najaf in protest against the shrine attack.

U.S. military units in the Baghdad area were told Thursday morning to halt all but essential travel. Commanders feared that convoys might be caught up in demonstrations or road blocks.

Nineteen people, 11 of them civilians, died in two bombings north of Baghdad that appeared unrelated to the sectarian fighting.

Of course this will be used by Al Qaeda (and their allies, like Mother Sheehan) to whip up more anti-Americanism.

That’s why they did it in the first place.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, February 23rd, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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