American Forces Press Service
Feb. 13, 2007 – Top U.S. officials expressed condolences to the Iraqi people as the country nears the first anniversary of the bombing of one of the holiest sites in Shiia Islam. On Feb. 22, 2006, the al-Askari Mosque in Samarra was bombed at about 7 a.m., in what officials called "a tragic and despicable act aimed at inciting sectarian violence," according to a joint statement released today by U.S. Embassy Baghdad Charge d'Affaires Daniel Speckhard and Multinational Force Iraq Commander Army Gen. David H. Petraeus.
The bomb destroyed the mosque's golden dome and severely damaged the structure. According to reports, two bombs were detonated. No injuries were reported, but violence in the following days resulted in as many as 165 people killed, and sectarian violence has plagued the country ever since.
"On this anniversary, we condemn those who sought to destroy one of Iraq's holiest sites and undermine the establishment of a free and representative government. Many of them are still among us today, seeking to force their will on this nation," the statement reads.
The officials used the statement to condemn the recent surge of attacks there.
"Yesterday and today, these forces of evil launched more cowardly attacks on the Iraqi people," the statement reads. "In solemn remembrance of both this occasion and for the victims of the attacks yesterday and today, we join peaceful Iraqis everywhere in grieving for those who give their lives working towards a peaceful and unified Iraq.
"On behalf of the American community in Iraq, we extend our sincere and deepest condolences to the Iraqi people."
The mosque is about 60 miles northwest of Baghdad.
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