Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

13 killed in Damascus bomb attack

The explosion struck as president Bashar Assad opened talks with visiting UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi

A taxi rigged with explosives has blown up outside a police station in the Syrian capital, killing at least 13 people.

The bombing occurred as the UN envoy to the nation's crisis was visiting Damascus to push his call for a ceasefire in talks with president Bashar Assad.

The SANA state news agency said 29 people were also wounded in the blast in the Bab Touma neighbourhood, a popular shopping district largely inhabited by Syria's Christian minority.

Once largely immune to the violence that has swept over Syria since the anti-Assad revolt began in March 2011, Damascus has become a frequent target of bombings in recent months.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but Islamist groups fighting alongside the rebels have sometimes claimed responsibility for bomb attacks against security targets in the capital.

Vegetable vendor Mohammad Hanbali, 27, said several people wounded in the blast were lying on the street.

"It's a cowardly act, carried out by terrorists," said Mr Hanbali, who was hit by a piece of shrapnel in the left leg.

SANA put the death toll at 13, while the anti-regime Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 10 people were killed in the blast.

In another part of capital, UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met Assad as part of his push for a ceasefire between rebels and government forces for the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which begins October 26.

Mr Brahimi told reporters following a closed-door meeting that he met earlier with Syrian opposition groups inside and outside the country to discuss his truce plan. He said he received "promises" but not a "commitment" from them to honour the ceasefire.

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