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Inquiry urged into warning of Iraq shrine bomb

Mariam Karouny and Waleed Ibrahim, Reuters

shrine.jpg


Wed Mar 1, 2006 11:40 AM ET16

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi politicians demanded an inquiry on Wednesday into why the government did not act on a warning about a plan to bomb a Shi'ite shrine, an attack that has brought the country to the brink of civil war.

Government and political sources told Reuters the minister for national security sent a report to the government two weeks before last Wednesday's demolition of the Golden Mosque in Samarra saying security had been breached around the shrine.

But the government ignored it, they said.

"He sent a report saying they had received information of attacks being prepared against Shi'ite shrines," one official in the government said on Tuesday, criticizing the inaction of the Shi'ite-led interim administration.

"This shows you the incompetence," the senior official said.

Mithal al-Alusi, an independent Sunni member of parliament, said on Wednesday: "I call for a political-judicial committee to be established immediately to check out these reports."

A spokesman for the main minority Sunni political bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front, said the government's apparent failure to act raised questions about its role in the incident.

"The report indicates the role of the government was greater than just ignoring the warning," said Zafeer al-Ani.

"I believe the government is involved either directly or indirectly through the use of some security forces."

Iraqi and U.S. officials have blamed the Samarra bomb on al Qaeda, saying the group is trying to sow sectarian discord in an attempt to destroy Iraq's progress toward democracy.

But al Qaeda and two Sunni militant groups have accused Shi'ites of carrying it out to create a justification for launching reprisals against Sunnis.

Also on Wednesday, pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat newspaper said it had obtained a copy of the security minister's report and that it contained a specific warning about the Samarra mosque.

CONTROVERSY

The minister, Abdul Karim al-Enazy, told Reuters he did warn the government that militants were planning attacks against Shi'ite shrines, but insisted the report referred to Kerbala.

Enazy, a Shi'ite, said Samarra was not mentioned at all, despite assertions to the contrary by other officials. National Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie denied that any such report even existed.

But a government official, from outside the Shi'ite bloc, said: "Samarra was mentioned by name in the report. Whatever they say now is not true."

Rubaie told Reuters on Tuesday that four guards protecting the Shi'ite shrine were arrested as suspects in the attack along with six others.

Enazy said questions remained over why the bombers, who spent long hours planting explosives overnight, did not kill any of the eight guards, who were found tied up but unharmed.

ę Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


:: Article nr. 21143 sent on 02-mar-2006 07:44 ECT

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Link: today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=uri:2006-03-01T16
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