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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 September 2007, 18:27 GMT 19:27 UK
Iraqi sacred site to be rebuilt
Images of the mosque before and after the explosions

Reconstruction work will begin next month on a revered shrine in the Iraqi city of Samarra blown up in the current conflict, UN cultural body Unesco says.

The al-Askari shrine, one of Iraq's most sacred Shia sites, was partly destroyed in two attacks over two years by suspected Sunni militants.

Thousands have died in sectarian violence triggered by the first attack.

The rebuilding work will be carried out by a Turkish company, and is being funded mostly by the EU and Unesco.

Officials said the work would begin after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in the middle of October.

The project is expected to cost $16m (7.9m), of which $8m will come from the EU, $5m from Unesco and $3m from the Iraqi government.

Haqi al-Hakim, an aide to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, told the Associated Press news agency the initial phase of clearing the site could take 10 months.

The February 2006 attack on the shrine, in which its golden dome was destroyed, sparked violence which has led to thousands of deaths over the past 18 months.

A second attack, in June 2007, saw its ancient minarets destroyed.

Both attacks were blamed on Sunni militants.

Iraq violence in figures
25 May 07 |  Middle East

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