The Askariyah mosque has been attacked again. Two minarets at the mosque have been brought down. From early eyewitness accounts, it sounds like a demolition rather than a car bomb as they were brought down seven minutes apart. Early reports don't seem to indicate any gunfire around the attack. Where were the security forces?
Samarra has been locked down. There's a vehicle and "large gathering" ban in Baghdad. Sadr, Sistani, and other major Shia figures are calling for calm.(AP)
"Just before the curfew was to take hold, Shiite militiamen carrying light weapons fanned out across Jihad, a mixed neighborhood in western Baghdad, police said. No violence was immediately reported.
The 30-member bloc loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr suspended its membership in parliament Wednesday, saying they will stay away from the 275-seat house until the government takes "realistic" steps to rebuild the Askariya shrine."(Reuters)
"Police and the senior government official said the Shi'ite-dominated Interior Ministry had been responsible for security at the mosque. Police said the ministry took over from local security forces in April.
"We know that two weeks ago there was an attempt to also target it, but it was foiled," the official said."
(WaPo) "In response to Wednesday's attack, the entire Iraqi security force responsible for guarding the mosque, the 3rd Battalion of the Salahaddin Province police, was detained for investigation, Iraqi law enforcement officials said. The collapse of the two minarets appeared to have been caused by explosive charges placed at their bases."
(More as it comes in.)CNN reports
gunfire before the demolitions. "The blast followed clashes between gunmen and Iraqi National Police, who were guarding the holy site. During the firefight, the insurgents entered the mosque, also known as the Golden Dome, planted explosives around the minarets and detonated them."
) "Since the attack in 2006, the shrine had been under the protection of local — predominantly Sunni — guards. But American military and Iraqi security officials had recently become concerned that the local unit had been infiltrated by Al Qaeda forces in Iraq.
A move by the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad over the last few days to bring in a new guard unit — predominantly Shiite — may have been linked to the attack today."....
"Iraqi police reported hearing two nearly simultaneous explosions coming from inside the mosque compound at around 9 a.m. today."
) "Al-Maliki met with the U.S. commander in Iraq to ask that American reinforcements be sent into Samarra to help head off new violence... al-Maliki's office said.
) "A Shiite shrine was also blown up north of Baghdad, while two Sunni mosques were bombed south of the capital, police said. One was destroyed and the other lost its minaret."