The Daily Telegraph reports: At least 25 people were reportedly killed or wounded after a suicide bomber blew himself up in central Damascus on Friday, the second such attack on the Syrian capital in a fortnight.
The bomb was detonated at a set of traffic lights in the historic district of al-Midan, just south of Damascus’s ancient walled city, state television reported.
Video footage indicated that a police bus had borne the brunt of the blast. Reduced to a shell, its seats were soaked in blood and covered in shards of glass.
The television station claimed that the majority of the casualties were civilians, saying that the attack took place “in a heavily populated working-class neighbourhood near a school”. More than 46 people were also wounded in the attack, it added.
There was no independent confirmation of the number of fatalities. The regime was quick to blame the attack on “terrorists”, which it says have been at the forefront of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad that erupted last March.
The attack came exactly a fortnight after two booby-trapped cars, allegedly driven by suicide bombers, exploded in front of government intelligence buildings in Damascus on December 23rd, killing 44 people.
Friday’s attack, like the one before it, coincided with mass protests called to demand Mr Assad’s overthrow and opposition officials claimed the blast was planned by the government to distract attention from the demonstrations.
Protests after noon prayers on Fridays have traditionally drawn the largest turnouts of the uprising, and organisers said they expected hundreds of thousands to take to the streets.
Once again one needs to ask: whose interests appear to be getting served by these bombings?
The regime claims it is not being challenged by a popular uprising but by “terrorists” — low and behold we get a universally recognized demonstration of terrorists at work. Not only that, but both performances have occurred during the period in which the audience includes Arab League observers present in Syria.
And since Friday is the easiest day on which mass protests can be organized, how could bombings on that day possibly serve the interests of the protesters? The bombers seem to be more interested in providing protesters with an incentive to avoid the streets and stay at home.