Syria: two explosions rock Damascus
Published 23/12/2011 | 10:41
Two car bombs in the heart of the Syrian capital, the first such attacks since the protests against Bashar al-Assad's regime began nine months ago.
State television blamed suicide bombers it said may have been linked to al-Qaeda.
It also said a number of military personnel and civilians were killed in the blasts targeting the state security building and an intelligence building. It did not give a specific number, but said most of the dead were civilians.
The blasts came a day after an advance team of Arab League observers arrived in the country on a mission to try to resolve.
The government has long depicted the uprising as the work of terrorists and armed gangs.
The state TV report, about an hour after the blasts went off, said initial investigations showed involvement by the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
The explosions went off within minutes of each other, shaking residents around the city, in the morning Friday, a weekend day.
They took place in the upscale Kfar Sousa district, and state TV said they targeted the state security building and a nearby intelligence building in the neighbourhood.
Residents in Damascus reported hearing gunfire and ambulance sires for few minutes following the explosions.
The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed in the crackdown waged since March by the Syrian regime against protesters.
With the arrival of Arab observers, the government has been eager to make its case, saying Thursday that 2,000 of its security personnel and soldiers have been killed in the turmoil.