June 11, 2013
By Kristen Gillespie and Hussam Hemidy
AMMAN: Opposition activists and Syrian state media traded accusations of being behind a double explosion in the heart of Damascus on Tuesday morning in a regime stronghold close to the Hamidiya Souq.
A total of 14 people were killed and 31 injured, said the Syrian state agency, adding that two “terrorist” suicide bombers blew themselves up.
Pro-regime media was on the scene within minutes after the blast, filming and taking still pictures. Activists said a nearby checkpoint where entering vehicles and people were stopped for frisking had been dismantled on Monday.
“The regime does this before any explosion,” said Sama Massoud, 37, a university graduate who lives in Damascus. “It’s important to note the following about Marjeh Square: It is fully secured, with people and permitted vehicles entering the small streets off it” which is where the blast occurred,” she said.
“Everyone knows you can’t access this area without being searched,” said Iman, 27, a university graduate who asked that her last name not be used. The explosion happened near the Passports and Immigration Department, she added.
Most of the victims of the blast appeared to be sitting at a nearby café.
The bombings mirror what occurred in Damascus on April 8, when a car bomb exploded in the heart of the city, killing an estimated 25 people. That explosion occurred near the Central Bank, which, like the site of today’s bombings, is guarded by a series of checkpoints and considered highly secure. Similarly, in the aftermath of the April car bomb, the regime and rebel groups swapped accusations, and neither side took responsibility.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attacks.
With additional reporting by Michael Pizzi.