| 07.01,12. 01:53 AM |
25 Dead in New Damascus Blast, Opposition Urges Int'l Probe
A suicide bombing hit Damascus on Friday, killing 25 and wounding dozens of mostly civilians, state media said, blaming "terrorists" for the second such attack on the Syrian capital in two weeks.
But Syria's opposition Muslim Brotherhood called for an international and Arab probe into the bombing, saying it was an act benefitting the regime.
"The killings in Syria will continue and the Syrian regime will keep hiding behind al-Qaida and the terrorists ... unless someone confronts the regime and takes it to account for its crimes," said the Brotherhood.
State television said the "powerful explosion" struck in the historic Midan quarter in the heart of the capital.
The attack, which took place in a heavily populated neighborhood near a school, killed 25 people and wounded 45 others, the television said, adding the casualties were mostly civilians and also some security personnel.
It showed gruesome footage of 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.
Angry residents were at the scene shouting and denouncing the bombing as the work of "terrorists".
The banned Brotherhood, in a statement received by Agence France Presse, charged the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which has been facing daily protests since mid-March, orchestrated the bombing.
It said the "regime, its agents, its gangs and its shabiha (militias) are the only ones to benefit from this explosion."
"They are the only ones who have the tools and are capable of doing it," said the statement.
"We in the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria call for an international probe and an Arab probe into this explosion before the criminal hides the evidence of his crime," it said.
"We hold the regime, its agents and its gangs fully responsible for this crime ... they are legally responsible for every drop of blood that falls in Syria," added the Brotherhood.
The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition activist group which has organized anti-regime protests since March, said in a statement sent to Agence France Presse that another explosion was heard in the Damascus suburb of Tal.
And the official SANA news agency reported that a "terrorist group" had blown up an oil pipeline between the central city of Hama and Idlib in the northwest.
The powerful December 23 bombings sparked a swirl of claims and counter-claims over who was responsible, with the authorities saying they were likely the work of al-Qaida and the opposition pointing the finger at the regime.
The latest attack came ahead of mass protests called by pro-democracy activists to demand an Arab League observer mission, in Syria for two weeks, admit its failure to stem nearly 10 months of bloodshed and hand over to the United Nations.
The privately-owned Dunia television channel, which is close to the authorities, said that an observer team went to the scene of the bombing but made no comments to journalists at the scene.
The Arab League observer mission has been in Syria since December 26 trying to assess whether President Bashar al-Assad's regime is complying with a peace accord aimed at ending its deadly crackdown on dissent.