Sufi shrine blown up in Libyan capital

TRIPOLI Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:31am EDT

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Unknown assailants blew up a major Sufi shrine in the Libyan capital on Thursday, residents said, the first such attack since several last year in the North African country.

Ultra-conservative Islamists have targeted sites belonging to Islam's Sufi tradition, which they brand idolatrous, since the end of a 2011 war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi. There were about a dozen attacks on Sufi shrines last spring and summer.

Thursday's bombing took place in the early morning and struck the Sidi Al-Andlusi mausoleum in the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura, residents said. The shrine of a Sufi theologian from the 15th century is protected under law as a national monument.

"It was a bomb attack. The doors and windows were blown out, the inside is charred," said one witness who lives near the shrine and declined to give his name.

"Everyone is very saddened by what has happened."

He said one person had been arrested in connection with the attack and was now under investigation.

The head of Tripoli's local council, Sadat al-Badri, condemned the attack, saying it was "against the ways of the Islamic religion", state LANA news agency reported.

In July, conservative Islamists blew up the tomb of a 15th century Sufi scholar and burned down a library in the Libyan town of Zlitan.

Attackers bulldozed a mosque containing Sufi graves in the center of Tripoli in broad daylight in late August, in what appeared to be Libya's most blatant sectarian attack since Gaddafi's overthrow.

(Reporting by Ali Shuaib; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Pravin Char)

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