At least 25 people were killed on Wednesday in two separate bombings in the Syrian capital Damascus.
The first attack targeted the Palace of Justice in central Damascus near the Old City. State news agency SANA said several others were wounded in addition to the initial death toll of 25.
The bomber set off his explosive device at 1:20 p.m. (1120 GMT) as the police tried to search him and stop him from entering the building, state television cited the Damascus police chief as saying.
The explosion hit the courthouse “at a time when the area is crowded” with lawyers, judges and civilians, harming a large number of people, Ahmed al-Sayyid, a senior state legal official told state-run al-Ikhbariya TV.
An AFP correspondent at the scene in the Hamidiyeh neighborhood said security forces had cordoned off the area and roads leading to it were blocked as ambulances and firefighters rushed to the building.
“We were terrified because the sound of the explosion was enormous,” a lawyer in the building during the attack told AFP.
“We took refuge in the library which is on a higher floor,” the lawyer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It was a bloody scene.”
The second blast hit not long after in the city’s Rabweh area, an alert on state television said, but no further details were immediately available.
The second bomb blast hit an area to the west of courthouse attack, state media said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, the second wave of deadly attacks in the capital in less than a week after twin bombings killed 74 on Saturday.
But they came with the rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime increasingly divided and dispirited after a series of battlefield setbacks.
Negotiations to end the conflict have meanwhile made little progress, with rebels this week declining to attend negotiations in Kazakhstan.
Damascus had already been reeling from Saturday’s bombings, which mainly killed Iraqi pilgrims in the city to visit Shi’ite shrines.
That attack was claimed by former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, part of a rebel alliance that controls large parts of the northwestern Idlib province.