DAMASCUS: Two suicide blasts ripped through the Syrian capital today, killing 55 people and leaving scenes of carnage in the streets in the deadliest bombing attack since the country’s uprising began 14 months ago, the Interior Ministry said.
A reporter at the scene said paramedics wearing rubber gloves were collecting human remains from the pavement after the explosions. Heavily damaged cars and pickup trucks stood smoldering in the area. The blasts ripped the facade off a military intelligence building, which appeared to be the target of the attack.
More than 370 people also were wounded in the attack, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The ministry, which is in charge of the country’s internal security, said the explosives weighed more than 1,000 kilograms.
Central Damascus is under the tight control of forces loyal to President Bashar Assad but has been struck by several bomb attacks, often targeting security installations or convoys, since the revolt against him began in March 2011.
The government blames the bombings on the terrorists it says are behind the uprising, which has been the most potent challenge to the Assad family dynasty in Syria in four decades. But opposition leaders and activists routinely blame the regime for orchestrating the attacks, saying they help it demonise the opposition and maintain support among those who fear greater instability.
There was no claim of responsibility for the day’s blasts. But an Al-Qaeda-inspired group has claimed responsibility for several past explosions, raising fears that terrorist groups are entering the fray and exploiting the chaos. Maj Gen Robert Mood, the Norwegian head of the UN’s ceasefire monitors in the country, toured the site today and said the Syrian people do not deserve this “terrible violence.”
The violence has brought a ceasefire plan brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan to the brink of collapse. Annan has appealed for calm and an end to bloodshed.