DAMASCUS - A suicide bombing rocked Damascus on Friday, January 6, killing 25 and wounding dozens of mostly civilians, state media reported, blaming terrorists for the second such attack on the Syrian capital in two weeks.
Immediate information indicates that a suicide terrorist blew himself up at a traffic light in the Maidan neighborhood, state television said, Reuters reported.
There are dozens of dead and wounded, mostly civilians.
The powerful explosion struck in the historic Midan quarter in the heart of the capital, state television said.
The attack, which took place in a heavily populated neighborhood near a school, killed 25 people and wounded 45 others, the station said, adding the casualties were mostly civilians and also some security personnel.
A gruesome footage was aired showing rescuers gathering body parts in the streets and placing them in plastic trash bags, in an area where damaged cars and buses could be seen splattered with blood.
Several riot police shields were seen in a wrecked bus, which was among several damaged vehicles.
The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition activist group which has organized anti-regime protests since March, said in a statement that another explosion was heard in the Damascus suburb of Tal.
On December 23 at least 44 people were killed by what Syrian authorities said were two suicide bombings that targeted security buildings in the Syrian capital.
The unusual attacks, which no group has yet claimed responsibility, signaled a dramatic escalation in the protests against Assad's 11-year rule.
Syrian security forces have launched a bloody crackdown on protestors, inspired by popular Arab uprisings which have toppled three Arab leaders.
The United Nations says nearly 6,000 people have been killed in Assad's crackdown on protests.
Syrian authorities blame armed groups for the violence, saying they have killed 2,000 soldiers and police.
Coming two days before the discussion of the initial report by Arab observers on the situation in Syria, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) blamed the attack on the Syrian authorities themselves.
These operations inside Syria are an attempt to terrorize the people and blame groups from the revolution but we stress that this is planned and systematic state terrorism by the security forces of President Bashar al-Assad, FSA spokesman Major Maher al-Naimi said.
The blast occurred two days before an Arab League committee was due to discuss an initial report of Arab observers who are checking Syria's compliance with an Arab plan to halt President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on unrest.
The meeting may decide whether to continue the mission or to refer Syria to the United Nations Security Council, perhaps paving the way for some form of international action, a scenario that many Arab countries are keen to avoid.
Adding credibility to the theory of a regime-planned attacks, Damascus residents said the city had been tense even before the blast.
Some friends who work in the security forces were warning my family since yesterday to stay at home, a Damascus resident, who gave her name only as Dima, said
The streets were empty and only a few people went to pray. There are checkpoints all over Damascus right now, especially at the exits.
However, an opposition activist, who asked not to be named, suggested that Islamist militants might be involved.
It seems clear that there is a growing extremist Islamist presence in Syria these days and I think there are hundreds of these extremists willing to fight the regime and blow themselves up in the name of jihad, he said.
We will be seeing more and more of these explosions in Syria in the coming days, I am sorry to say, he added.
Shortly after the December 23 attacks, a website purporting to be that of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria said that the group was behind the attacks.
The website also warned Syrians of further attacks against government offices and security forces in the coming 10 days.
But the Muslim Brotherhood denied the claim, accusing Assad's regime of orchestrating the attacks.