Thursday, February 23, 2006
AP: Sunni mosque attacks spread
By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS, Associated Press Writer -- Thursday, 54 minutes ago
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A major Sunni Arab bloc Thursday suspended talks with Shiite and Kurdish parties on a new government after scores of Sunni mosques were attacked and dozens of bodies found in a wave of reprisal violence following the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine.
Violence continued Thursday with an attack on a Sunni mosque in Baqouba, where eight Iraqi soldiers were killed in a bombing and nearly a dozen people were wounded.
Iraqi soldiers inspect the scene, left, following an explosion in Baqouba, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006. (AP Photo/Mohammed Adnan)
Faced with the grim prospect of sectarian war, the government extended the curfew in Baghdad and Salaheddin province for two days in the wake of Wednesday's attack on the Askariya shrine in Samarra. All leaves for Iraqi soldiers and police were canceled and personnel were ordered to report to their units.
Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr slammed the Iraqi government and U.S. forces for not protecting the Samarra shrine, also known as the Golden Mosque, and ordered his militia to defend Shiite holy sites across.
"If the government had real sovereignty, then nothing like this would have happened," al-Sadr said a statement. "Brothers in the Mahdi Army must protect all Shiite shrines and mosques, especially in Samarra."
At least 46 bodies were found scattered across Iraq late Wednesday and early Thursday, many of them shot execution-style and dumped in Shiite-dominated parts of the capital, Baghdad.
They included a prominent Al-Arabiya TV female correspondent and two other Iraqi journalists, who had been covering Wednesday's explosion in Samarra. Their bullet-riddled bodies were found on the outskirts of the mostly Sunni Arab city 60 miles north of Baghdad.
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