for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up

FACTBOX-Golden Mosque in Iraq's city of Samarra

June 13 (Reuters) - A blast at the site of the Golden Mosque in the Iraqi city of Samarra on Wednesday damaged the two minarets that were left standing after the revered Shi'ite shrine was partly destroyed in February 2006.

That act in 2006 sparked a wave of sectarian bloodshed that has pushed Iraq close to all-out civil war.

Below are facts about the Golden Mosque:

** The Golden Mosque is one of the four major Shi'ite shrines in Iraq. Samarra, north of Baghdad, is a predominantly Sunni city. Other major sites are in the holy Shi'ite cities of Najaf and Kerbala. The fourth is in the Baghdad district of Kadhimiya, also mainly home to Shi'ites.

** Two of the 12 revered Shi'ite imams are buried in the Samarra shrine -- Imam Ali al-Hadi, who died in 868 and his son, the 11th imam, Hasan al-Askari, who died in 874.

** Shi'ites believe the 12th imam, Imam Mehdi, known as the hidden imam, went into hiding from a cellar in the complex in 878. Shi'ites say he will return before the Day of Judgment to return justice to a world full of oppression.

** Iraqi commandos retook the Golden Mosque from insurgents during a U.S.-led offensive in Samarra in October 2004.

** The golden dome of the sanctuary was completed in 1905 and had been covered by 72,000 golden pieces. It measured roughly 20 metres (yards) wide with a circumference of 68 metres, making it one of the biggest domes in the Islamic world.

Each of the mosque's two golden minarets is 36 metres high, according to the Encyclopedia of the Orient and Atlas Tours.

** No reconstruction of the shrine has taken place, partly because of disagreements between Shi'ite and Sunnis over how the work will be carried out. The Iraqi government blamed al Qaeda for the 2006 attack.

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up