Basra: Shi'ite rioters set fire to Sunni shrine

February 22, 2006 20:13


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Shi'ite protesters, enraged by the bombing of a major Shi'ite shrine, set fire Wednesday to a Sunni shrine on the outskirts of the southern city of Basra, witnesses said. The Sunni-led Iraqi Islamic Party confirmed the attack on the shrine containing the 7th century tomb of Talha bin Obeid-Allah, a companion of Islam's prophet Muhammad. Dozens of armed Shi'ites stormed the shrine, torching furniture and carpets, but fire fighters extinguished the blaze before it could harm the building. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The shrine is a holy site for Sunni Muslims, who visit from across the Islamic world. Shi'ite leaders called for calm Wednesday after an explosion caused extensive damage to the golden dome on the Askariya shrine in Samarra, about 95 kilometers north of Baghdad. But militants attacked Sunni mosques, and a gunfight broke out between Shiite militiamen and guards at the Iraqi Islamic Party office in Basra.

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