Explosions Destroy Minarets at Golden Mosque; U.S. Officials Condemn Attack
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 13, 2007 Two minarets at the Golden Mosque compound in Samarra, Iraq, were destroyed around 9 a.m. today, military officials reported. A minaret is a tall, slender tower of a mosque having one or more balconies from which the summons to prayer is called out by a Muslim crier.
Iraqi police on site described hearing two near-simultaneous explosions coming from inside the mosque compound, but they did not see any attackers in the vicinity. The Golden Mosque, one of the holiest Shiite shrines in the country, was the site of an insurgent bombing in February 2006 that sparked widespread sectarian violence.
The Iraqi police at the scene are investigating the cause of the explosions. No casualties have been reported.
U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, issued a statement today condemning the attack.
“This brutal action on one of Iraq's holiest shrines is a deliberate attempt by al Qaeda to sow dissent and inflame sectarian strife among the people of Iraq,” the leaders said in the statement. “It is an act of desperation by an increasingly beleaguered enemy seeking to obstruct the peaceful political and economic development of a democratic Iraq.”
The leaders said they share in the outrage of the Iraqi people about this crime, and they called on all Iraqis to reject the call to violence. “We cannot allow these terrorists to work against the interests of the Iraqi people who are seeking peace and prosperity for all,” they said.
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)