World heritage status for Iraq's bombed shrine city, says government

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BAGHDAD: The central Iraqi Sunni city of Samarra which houses a revered Shia mosque that was bombed by Al-Qaeda has been selected as a world heritage site, the government said on Tuesday.

The Universal Heritage Committee of UNESCO has agreed to add the city of Samarra to its list of world heritage sites, a statement said.

Samarra, north of Baghdad in Sunni Salaheddin province, gained prominence after the Shia Al-Askari shrine there was bombed on February 22, 2006, by Al-Qaeda fighters.

That attack sparked nationwide brutal sectarian violence which killed tens of thousands of people, mostly in Baghdad.

Iraq s tourism and archaeology ministry on Tuesday welcomed the UNESCO move.

Adding Samarra to the UNESCO list means it will get international attention, ministry spokesman Abdel Zahra Al-Talqani said. Such archaeological sites should be restored by UNESCO. -AFP

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