Shi’ite fury has spilled over onto the streets of towns and cities throughout Iraq. The wave of anger is a reaction to a bomb attack on one of the Shi’ites most holy sites, the dome of the Al-Askari shrine at Samara. There have already been bloody reprisals. In Basra, gunmen in police uniform seized a dozen suspected Sunni insurgents from prison and took them away. Their bodies were found later lying in the street.
Efforts are already underway to stop the tension descending into full-scale civil war. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has summoned the leaders of all sides to emergency talks today. Meanwhile Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, made a rare appearance on television to emphasise the need for calm. However, dozens of Sunni mosques have been targeted by demonstrators and damaged.
The United Nations has also called on Iraqis to rally behind its non-sectarian government.