The Shia-majority city of Samarra, Iraq experienced a wave of bombings that killed three people and wounded 41 others Thursday. Three car bombs exploded at three different security checkpoints on Samarra’s western border. Among the three killed were a civilian and two police officers. Witnesses at the scene reported that a hail of rocket and mortar fire followed these bombings. A gunfight ensued between unidentified militants and security forces which would cease when the militants retreated after taking substantial fire from Iraqi war planes.
The city of Samarra, which is located roughly 125km from Baghdad, is a significant site for Shia Muslims as it is the home of the al-Askari mosque. This mosque is the burial site of Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-Askari who are the tenth and eleventh Shia Imams. This mosque was destroyed by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, a precursor to ISIS, in 2006. The mosque has been restored and its new gold dome is almost completed but the mosque remains under threat of destruction as ISIS continues to move throughout Iraq.
No group has yet to take responsibility for the attacks but this attack matches other attacks that have occurred in Iraq last year that ISIS has taken credit for. Last year thousands of Shia men, women, and children were killed at the hands of ISIS in Iraq.