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New Bombing Strikes Central Damascus - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Security personnel walk in front of the former Interior Ministry building after a blast at Marjeh Square in Damascus April 30, 2013 (REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri)

Security personnel walk in front of the former Interior Ministry building after a blast at Marjeh Square in Damascus on April 30, 2013. (REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The second bombing in two days rocked Damascus this morning, following a failed assassination attempt on Syrian prime minister Wael Al-Halki yesterday. The attacks come as part of a series of bombings in the Mediterranean nation over the past months.

The latest explosion reportedly hit the Al-Marjeh district in the center of the city, close to the former headquarters of the Interior Ministry.

Syrian state TV channels reported that 13 people had been killed by the blast in Marjeh Square, with 70 injured, while the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 9 civilians and 3 police officers were killed, with more casualties expected.

This is the latest in a series of bombings in and around the Syrian capital. Yesterday, a car bomb exploded in the upscale Mazzeh neighbourhood, in what appears to have been an assassination attempt aimed at Syria’s prime minister.

The bomb reportedly killed 6 people, including one of the Halki’s bodyguards, although the prime minister apparently escaped unscathed. His driver and another bodyguard were reported to have been seriously injured by the explosion.

The Mazzeh district is home to many senior figures in the government, foreign embassies and government offices, and security is reportedly tight in the area. This led some opposition activists to claim that the attack had been staged by the government.

Susan Ahmad, a spokesperson for the Revolutionary Council in Damascus, told London’s Guardian newspaper that the security forces previously sealed off the scenes of bombings, but that this time was different.

“After the explosion took place, helicopters hovered over the area, state TV was there, ambulances rushed to the area. This is usually what happens when the regime fakes an explosion,” she said.

Syrian state TV broadcast a statement from Halki blaming the attack on “terrorists.”

While fighting between government forces and rebels has been largely confined to outlying districts and suburbs, the city has been increasingly targeted by bomb attacks since the beginning of the uprising against the rule of President Bashar Al-Assad two years ago.

A large bomb killed 15 people in the city on April 9, while other government figures have been the subject of assassination attempts. A senior Sunni cleric seen by many as an Assad ally was killed last month, while the interior minister, Mohammed Al-Shaar, was injured in another attack in December.

So far, no party has claimed responsibility for the latest bombings.