WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. officials in Iraq will use lessons from last year's bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Iraq to try to contain a new wave of violence now that the mosque has been attacked again, the White House said Wednesday.
Presidential spokesman Tony Snow said it's not clear yet who perpetrated the attack early Wednesday on the Askariya Shrine in Samarra, one of the holiest in Shiite Islam.
``It has all the marks of al-Qaida,'' he said, ``in the sense that it seems clearly an attempt to inflame sectarian tensions. ... They're literally trying to blow up Iraqi democracy.''
He said that ``there will be aggressive outreach on all sides'' by American officials in Iraq to try to prevent the bombing from reverberating into reprisal attacks between Shiite and Sunnis. He also urged Iraqis to remain calm.
``This is especially a time for people within Iraq to avoid that invitation and to do what they can to work together to fight their common enemy, which are the folks _ al-Qaida and others _ who are trying to use the murder of innocent Iraqis and also the desecration of Iraqi holy sites as a venue for trying to create new violence,'' Snow said.
The assault destroyed the two minarets of the shrine. The Askariya shrine's famous golden dome was shattered in February 2006. Blamed on Sunni militants, that bombing provoked Shiite militias into attacking Sunni clerics and mosques, which then prompted attacks on Shiites.
That cycle of violence still plagues Iraq today.