BEIRUT, (AFP) – Simultaneous bombings in the mostly Druze and Christian town of Jaramana near Damascus on Wednesday killed at least 38 people and sent residents fleeing in panic, a watchdog and witnesses said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that according to activists and residents most of the victims died when a suicide attacker blew up his car moments after an explosive device was used to explode up another vehicle.
“The number of people killed by two car bomb blasts in the town of Jaramana this morning has risen to 38,” said the Britain-based watchdog, adding that dozens were wounded.
Syria’s interior ministry put the death toll at 34, state television said.
Among the dead were 10 unidentified bodies, added the broadcaster, noting that 83 people were injured.
Residents said the series of bomb attacks took place at 6:30 am (0430 GMT) in Jaramana, where pro-regime militiamen have set up armed groups to defend the town against rebels.
“Terrorists blew up two car bombs filled with a large amount of explosives in (Jaramana’s) main square… killing and wounding several residents, and damaging several residential buildings and shops,” said Syrian state news agency SANA.
The bombs struck Jaramana at the same time as two explosive devices were set off in the town in separate attacks, said SANA, adding that nobody was killed in those blasts.
People in Jaramana panicked as the explosions hit their town, residents told AFP.
Wednesday’s bombings marked the fourth such attack on Jaramana since August 28. On October 29, a car bombing killed 11 people and wounded dozens.
Also on Wednesday, Syrian rebels shot down a fighter jet in the northwest of the country, near the border with Turkey, said an AFP correspondent on the frontier.
The warplane came down in a massive explosion, leaving behind a plume of smoke, the journalist said, reporting several kilometres (miles) away from where the jet was downed.
The Observatory said the aircraft was hit by a missile and that it crashed at Daret Ezza, which lays on the border between the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo.
Also in the northwest, warplanes carried out five air raids in 15 minutes on rebel-held Maaret al-Numan, while troops and insurgents clashed at the town’s southern entrance, the Observatory said.
Fighter jets meanwhile bombarded the anti-regime town Daraya southwest of Damascus, scene of fierce battles for days.
The army also shelled the rebel-held town of Zabadani, east of Damascus, against which “the army has been trying to stage an assault for several days,” said the watchdog.
According to the Syrian Revolution General Commission, a grassroots network of anti-regime activists, the army has shelled Zabadani “continuously for more than four months,” ever since the town was seized by rebels.
“More than 50 tank shells fell on the town in half an hour” on Wednesday, injuring several people, the SRGC added.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in violence across Syria since the outbreak of an anti-regime revolt in March last year. Brutal regime repression of protests led to the outbreak of a bloody insurgency.