UN donates US$5 million to restore Iraq shrine

UNESCO agreed Sunday to donate US$5 million (€3.7 million) for the restoration of a revered Shiite shrine in Iraq that has suffered two bomb attacks, the first of which unleashed sectarian strife in the country. A bombing last week brought down the twin golden minarets of the al-Askariya shrine in Samarra, north of the capital Baghdad. An earlier attack that destroyed the building's golden dome in February 2006 helped ignite the sectarian fighting between Sunnis and Shiites that has plagued Iraq. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iraqi government on Sunday, committing itself to donating the money for the restoration of al-Askariya. It did not say when the funds will be made available to the Iraqi government.