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New Fears of Sectarian Warfare in Iraq After Deadly Attack

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- There are fresh concerns in Baghdad about the renewal of sectarian warfare in the country after Monday's explosion at a Shiite foundation's office in central Baghdad that left 25 people dead and more than 70 wounded.

Just a short time later, what was believed to be a retaliatory bombing occurred close to a Sunni religious foundation's headquarters in the capital.  However, no one was hurt in the blast.

These incidents come on the heels of a heated dispute between the two endowments that handle the nation's religious landmarks over a Shiite shrine in the mostly Sunni city of Samarra.

Fearing all out battles between the sects if the violence escalates, both Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Sunni parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi appealed for calm while condemning the attacks.

In a statement, the prime minister said, "We call on the people to be aware, and dismiss sectarianism and hold on to national unity" and to reject "enemies who do not want citizens to live in safety, stability and unity."

The shrine at the center of the most recent controversy is the gold-domed Shiite Al-Askari shrine in Samarra, which was struck by al Qaeda in 2006, sparking two years of bloody sectarian warfare that came close to tearing Iraq apart.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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