Washington : US President George W. Bush has strongly condemned the bombing of a revered Shia shrine in the northern Iraqi city of Samarra, describing the terror attack as "Al Qaeda's scheme to sow hatred among the Iraqi people".
"This barbarous act was clearly aimed at inflaming sectarian tensions among the peoples of Iraq and defeating their aspirations for a secure, democratic and prosperous country," Bush said in a statement Wednesday.
"I join Iraq's leaders in calling on all Iraqis to refrain from acts of vengeance and reject Al Qaeda's scheme to sow hatred among the Iraqi people and to instead join together in fighting Al Qaeda as the true enemy of a free and secure Iraq," he said.
Bush also urged the international community and Iraq's neighbours to do everything they could to help Iraq combat the terrorists, especially to stop the flow of foreign terrorists into Iraq.
An earlier White House statement said Bush had telephoned Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to offer his condolences over the attack.
Insurgents blew up two minarets of the Shiite shrine in Samarra, some 120 km north of Baghdad, Wednesday morning, raising fears of an escalation of sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis in the war-torn country.