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Sectarian Violence Surges After Shrine Bombing

Hadeer al-Rubaie, another colleague of Bahjat said that "She was assigned in Kirkuk to report on the city." When the Samara events happened, Rubaie said, "she called and said she is going to Samarra to report on the attack. I tried to tell her not to go because it is very dangerous but she insisted to go."

More than 60 other journalists have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion to Iraq in 2003, including three other correspondents for al-Arabiya.

A wave of sectarian strife and recrimination swept Iraq Thursday after Wednesday's bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in the city of Samarra. The interior ministry said that more than 100 people have been killed in the violence.
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Shiite Shrine Bombing Sparks Protests
A wave of sectarian strife and recrimination swept Iraq Thursday after Wednesday's bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in the city of Samarra. The interior ministry said that more than 100 people have been killed in the violence.

In March 2004, correspondent Ali al-Khatib and cameraman Ali Abdel-Aziz were killed near a U.S. military checkpoint while covering the aftermath of a rocket attack on the Burj al-Hayat hotel in Baghdad.

Another al-Arabiya correspondent, Jawad Kadhim, was seriously wounded last year when gunmen shot him in a failed attempt to kidnap him.

Wednesday, after the mosque bombing, President Bush, as well as top U.S. military and civilian representatives here, appealed for calm. He repeated that appeal Thursday

"I appreciate very much the leaders from all aspects of Iraqi society that have stood up and urged for there to be calm. . . . The voices of reason from all aspects of Iraqi life understand that this bombing is intended to create civil strife, that the act was an evil act. The destruction of a holy site is a political act intending to create strife," Bush said.

He said he wanted to "assure the Iraqi people that the U.S. government is serious in our commitment in helping to rebuild that holy site."

In Baghdad, Shiite boys and men abruptly abandoned classrooms, homes and jobs to muster outside the headquarters of the influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the heart of Sadr City, the slum named for the cleric's father.

"This is a day we will never forget," said Naseer Sabah, 24, who had left his job at a pastry factory without changing clothes to join the black-clad Shiite militia fighters clutching pistols, Kalashnikov assault rifles and grenade launchers outside Sadr's headquarters. Thousands converged on the Sadr offices, on foot or in buses and pickup trucks packed with armed men hanging out the windows.

"We await the orders of our preachers," teenagers around Sabah cried.

"We are the soldiers of the clerics," Shiite protesters chanted in Karrada, another of Baghdad's Shiite neighborhoods. Demonstrators there shouted a warning to their enemies: "If they are up to it, let them face us."

Other protests were reported in the predominantly Shiite cities of Najaf, Karbala, Basra and elsewhere.


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