Saturday, March 17, 2012

Twin blast kills at least 27 in Damascus, also car bomb in Palestinian Yarmouk camp

 (Pictures Syrian press agency Sana) 

Updated (see below) Twin blasts hit the heart of Damascus on Saturday, killing at least 27 people and wounding 140 in an attack on security installations that state television blamed on "terrorists". Syrian television reported that cars packed with explosives had targeted an intelligence centre and a police headquarters at 7.30 am, blowing the front off one building and sending debris and shattered glass flying through the streets.
The official Syrian press agency Sana said the blasts had hit the criminal police force headquarters and the Air Security Directorate. The agency published gruesome images from the sites that showed what appeared to be smoldering bodies in two separate vehicles, a wrecked minivan smeared with blood, and severed limbs collected in sacks. At least 27 people were killed and 97 were wounded, another television channel said, quoting Health Minister Wael al-Halki. It is believe the final death toll will be higher. No one claimed responsibility.

The attacks followed other suicide bombings, one in Damascus on 23 December against a security headquarters which killed 44 people and wounded 166; another on 6 January in a crowded area which killed 26 and injured 63, and a third and fourth attack in Aleppo in 10 February against buildings of security services that killed 28 and wounded 235 people.

Ma'an News reports that also a vehicle belonging to the Palestine Liberation Army exploded in Damascus' Yarmouk refugee camp on Saturday, killing several people. The explosion followed the large blasts targeting state security buildings in Damascus. It was not immediately clear who was behind it. Syrian authorities cordoned off the area and prevented access to the site. The number of casualties could not be independently verified from outside the country, according to Ma'an that got the news from residents in the camp.
The vehicle exploded near the headquarters of the General Command of the Palestinian Liberation Army  in the camp. The PLA was once established as the armed wing of the PLO, but later integrated under Syrian military command and used to police the refugee camps.
 Security forces had threatened the camp just days earlier due to Fatah's alleged support of demonstrations against Syrian leader Bashar Assad, sources in the camp told Ma'an this week.
“Yarmouk is not more precious than (Homs neighborhood) Baba Amro, and it will be raided if the demonstrations which Fatah movement organizes” continue, a security agent was quoted as saying.
It is not the first time that Palestinians inside Syria are victims of the ongoing violence. In August, a Syrian assault on the port city Latakia killed dozens of Palestinians in Ramel refugee camp, and the UN said thousands of refugees fled the violence.

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