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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 18:14 GMT
In pictures: Iraq shrine bombing

Shrine in Samarra

One of Shia Islam's holiest shrines has been badly damaged in a bomb attack. A local photographer captured the attack moments after it hit the central Iraqi town of Samarra.

Protester at mosque in Samarra

The attack sparked immediate and furious protests from Shias. Reports said armed men had entered the shrine at dawn, overcoming guards before detonating their explosives.

Iraqis search the rubble of the bomb site

Local people searched the rubble for bodies, although it seems that no one was killed in the blast.

Damage to Samarra shrine

The damage was massive, bringing down the apex of the dome and the roof of the surrounding arcades.

Mosque officials retrieve a shield and turban from the tomb of the Imams Ali al-Hadi and al-Hasan al-Askari

The shrine contains the tombs of two revered Shia imams, structures which had been crowned by their turbans to mark the resting places of holy men.

Shia demonstrators carry bomb-damaged artefacts outside the damaged shrine in Samarra

Thousands of demonstrators gathered at the damaged site calling for revenge.

View inside the collapsed dome

People picked through the rubble to rescue religious artefacts and copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Protesters in Baghdad

Angry Shias gathered in the Sadr City neighbourhood of Baghdad to protest against the bombing.

Protesters in Najaf, south of Baghdad

Protests also erupted in the holy Shia city of Najaf. The attack was almost certainly designed to fuel tensions between the Sunni and Shia populations, say correspondents.

Shrine in Samarra before the explosion

Before the attack the al-Askari shrine in Samarra was known for is distinctive golden dome - built about 100 years ago over the historic tombs.


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