Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blamed security guards for the bombing of a Shiite shrine in the town of Samarra on Wednesday and said they will be punished, according to a report on state television.
"The guards present there had a role in this attack and they will be punished," Maliki told reporters during his visit to Samarra on Wednesday that was broadcast by Al-Iraqiya TV on Thursday.
"Anyone who is involved or participated or played any role in this brutal crime will be punished," he said, adding that the government was close to signing a contract to rebuild the shrine before it was bombed.
Wednesday's bombing followed one by Al-Qaeda militants in February 2006 that destroyed the Al-Askari mosque's golden dome and touched off a wave of sectarian killings that has left tens of thousands of people dead.
"In two days we were to sign a contract to reconstruct the shrine, but this cowardly action was carried out though it will not deter us from rebuilding," he said.
Today morning, the interior ministry's director of operations, Brigadier General Abdul Karim halaf, said a group of security guards at the mosque had been arrested after the latest attack.
"We have detained a few security guards who were stationed inside the complex of the shrine," he said. "I can't tell the exact number of those detained but they are under investigation."
Iraqi security forces, including the specialised Facility Protection Service (FPS) guards, have been deployed around the shrine since it was first attacked.