25 dead in Syrian ‘terrorist’ blast, state media says
(CNN) — A suicide bomber blew himself up in the Syrian capital on Friday, killing at least 25 people and wounding 46 others, Syrian state media reported.
The incident took place in the al-Midan quarter of Damascus. Casualties included mostly civilians and some law enforcement personnel, the Syrian Arab News Agency said.
The news agency said the bomb went off at a traffic light “in a densely populated area” with heavy traffic. It occurred near Hassan al-Hakeem Basic Education School.
No one has claimed responsibility for the action. It comes a couple of days after the Free Syrian Army, the force of military defectors fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime, vowed to kick off “huge operations” against government targets.
The Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists which collects reports from eyewitnesses and protesters, reported a heavy presence of ambulances and security forces in Damascus, with explosions heard around the area.
Every Friday for months, anti-government activists have staged mass demonstrations across Syria.
The LCC reported anti-government demonstrations and a massive deployment of security forces in other parts of the country. At least four people have died elsewhere, two in Hama, and one each in Homs and the Damascus suburb of Zabadany. The LCC said security forces firing at protesters shot a child in the chest in one location.
The apparent suicide attack comes as Arab League monitors are in the country to determine whether the Syrian government is abiding by an agreement to end its 10-month crackdown against protests. The Arab League said Friday it was increasing the number of monitors in Syria over the next few days to 150 people, from about 100.
Between 5,000 and 6,000 deaths have occurred during the crackdown, according to various accounts. Activists blame the killings on a 10-month-long brutal government crackdown against peaceful protesters. Al-Assad’s government says it is putting down armed terrorists, whom it blames for the bloodshed.
The Friday blast comes two weeks after a pair of powerful car bomb explosions killed at least 44 people in Damascus. The government blamed the strike on terrorists, while opposition forces accused the regime of carrying out the attack to back up its claim of fighting terrorists.
CNN cannot independently confirm events inside Syria because the government has restricted activities by international journalists.