Large explosion shakes Iraqi city

A large explosion shook the city of Samarra early Wednesday, and police said one of the country's most famous Shiite religious shrines was damaged.

The blast occurred about 6:55 a.m. at the Askariya Shrine, which contains the tombs of two revered Shiite imams, police Capt. Laith Mohammed said.

U.S. and Iraqi forces surrounded the shrine, famous for its golden dome, and began searching houses in the area. Residents said damage to the dome was extensive.

There were no reports of deaths or injuries but damage to the shrine was severe, residents said by telephone.

The shrine contains the tombs of the 10th and 11th imams, Ali al-Hadi who died in 868 A.D. and his son Hassan al-Askari who died in 874 A.D and is visited by Shiite pilgrims from throughout the Muslim world.

Samarra is located about 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, reports the AP.


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