(AFP) – Sep 23, 2008
BAGHDAD (AFP) — The central Iraqi Sunni city of Samarra which houses a revered Shiite 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 Shiite 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."
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