23 February 2006

Secretary-General Shocked by Bombing of Samarra Shrine, Appeals for Restraint in Face of Act Aimed at Provoking Sectarian Strife 

NEW YORK, 23 February (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General was deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the bombing of the holy Shrine of Imams Ali al-Hadi and al-Hasan al-Askari in Samarra this morning, an act which is clearly aimed at provoking sectarian strife and undermining further the peace and stability of Iraq.  He appeals to all communities to show maximum restraint in the face of these provocative actions.

The Secretary-General further calls on all political and religious leaders of Iraq to come together in a spirit of dialogue and mutual respect to calm the situation and dedicate their efforts to ensure the respect of human rights and the protection of places of worship.

The United Nations will continue to do everything possible to assist the Iraqi people to promote inter-communal dialogue and national reconciliation.

* *** *