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Wednesday, June 13, 2007 

Destruction of a country (and shrine) in stages.

It's been a dreadful day for news in general from the Middle East, so much so that the repeated desecration of al-Askaria shrine, one of Shia Islam's most holy sites, has been knocked down the news. The mosque was previously bombed in February of last year, with al-Qaida in Iraq (then known as the Mujahideen Shura Council, now the "Islamic State of Iraq") being widely blamed for the destruction of its shrine.

Today the two remaining minarets of the shrine were destroyed, although it's unclear as of yet whether they were mortared, bombed or otherwise. CNN has reported that they were blasted after a gunfight, with the insurgents planting explosives around the minarets before detonating them. The ISI is again being widely blamed.

Whoever is to blame, it's incredibly bad news. It was the attack on the shrine which triggered the sharp decline into civil war, with dozens of bodies being found on the streets of the capital every day. Both al-Sadr and al-Sistani have called for calm, but such requests went unheeded last time. The Iraqi government responded by ordering a curfew after 3pm in Baghdad, but IraqSlogger is reporting that the reprisal attacks may well have already started, with up to three Sunni mosques targeted. It's difficult to believe that things could get much worse in Iraq, but this might do just that.

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