Nine dead in Damascus suicide bomb
BEIRUT: A suicide bomber killed nine people and wounded 20 outside a central Damascus mosque on Friday, Syrian state television said, in another blow to a peace plan that the United Nations says President Bashar Assad has failed to honor.
The blast ripped through worshippers at the Zain Al-Abideen mosque, which was under heavy security for Friday prayers, often a launchpad for anti-Assad protests, opposition activists said. State media said security officials were among the wounded.
“We had been trying to go pray in the area but they stopped us at a checkpoint. Security weren’t letting us in because there are usually protests there,” one anti-Assad activist told Reuters in neighboring Lebanon.
“Then we heard the blast. It was so loud and then ambulances came rushing past us,” the activist added. “I could see a few body parts and pieces of flesh on the road. The front of a restaurant looked destroyed. People were screaming.”
State television showed images of blackened flesh and a mangled hand lying on a motorway underpass as soldiers and police cleared the area to make way for ambulance crews.
A resident who spoke to security officials at the scene said a man had approached soldiers near the mosque and detonated a bomb belt when challenged. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Earlier, a loud blast was heard in the capital’s al Sinaa district near a garage used by government buses and pro-Assad militiamen tasked with preventing demonstrations.
Shopkeepers said the first blast hit a black Mercedes, which caught fire. The driver was wounded but no one else was hurt.
Posted by: Steve White