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Insurgents detonate explosives in Shiite shrine

Insurgents detonate explosives in holy Shiite shrine linked to revered imam.

india Updated: May 14, 2006 02:41 IST

A series of roadside bombs and explosions damaged a Shiite shrine east of the volatile city of Baqouba late on Saturday, police and the Interior Ministry said.

The blasts occurred about 11 pm at the Imam Abdullah Ali al-Hadi shrine, the Diyala provincial police Joint Coordination Center and Interior Ministry Lt Col Falah al-Mohammedawi said. There were no injuries.

The bombing marks the second time in nearly three months that assailants have targeted a site sacred to Iraq's Shiite majority. On Feb 22 bombs heavily damaged the Golden Dome in Samarra, which holds the tomb of Imam Abdullah's father. That attack dramatically escalated tensions between Shiites and Sunni Arabs who form the core support for the insurgency.

The attack on the Imam Abdullah Ali al-Hadi Shrine is likely to further heighten sectarian tensions, particularly in Baqouba, a mixed Sunni Arab-Shiite town that has recently seen an increase in violence.

About a half hour later, former army Lt Col Hussein Shams was seriously wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near his home in the village of Balad Ruz, 25 kilometers (15 miles) east of Baqouba, authorities said. An Iraqi army patrol rushing to the scene was hit by a second roadside bomb, wounding an officer and a soldier, the Joint Coordination Center said.

Iraqi lawmakers have been struggling for months to set up a new national unity government which they hope will calm sectarian and ethnic tensions and sap steam from the insurgency. But negotiations have been progressing at a glacial pace, leading some lawmakers to complain that the process was being driven by self-interest and sectarianism that ran counter to the national interest.