Suspected al-Qaida bombers toppled the towering minarets of Samarra's revered Shiite shrine on Wednesday, dealing a bold blow to Iraqi hopes for peace and reopening old wounds a year after the mosque's Golden Dome was destroyed.
The attack stoked fears of a surge in violence between Muslim sects. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government rushed to contain Shiite wrath against Sunnis: It clamped a curfew on Baghdad and asked for U.S. troop reinforcements in Samarra, 60 miles north of here, and for a heightened American military alert in the capital.
But sketchy reports of sectarian strife began to come in. Police told of at least four Sunni mosques in Baghdad and south of the capital attacked by arsonists and bombers, and of a smaller Shiite shrine bombed north of here. On Thursday, police said a woman and child were wounded in a repeat bombing on one of the Sunni shrines attacked a day earlier.
In Najaf the religious authorities isssued strong condemntations it is particularly noteworthy that Grand Ayatollah Ishaq Fayyadwho is normally noted for his "quietist" approach to Iraqi politics and who rarely makes political statements, issued a statement in which he said he laid the blame primarily on the occupation forces