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Middle East

Deadly car bomb strikes Damascus fuel station

Activists say at least 11 people are killed and 40 are wounded in capital's Masakin Barzeh neighborhood.
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2013 17:36
Syria's national news agency SANA released a photo showing the aftermath of the bomb attack in Damascus [Reuters]

At least 11 people were killed and 40 wounded when a car bomb exploded at a crowded petrol station in the Syrian capital Damascus on Thursday, opposition activists said.

The station was packed with people queuing for fuel that has become increasingly scarce during the country's 21-month-long insurgency aimed at overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad.

The semi-official al-Ikhbariya television station on Friday showed footage of 10 burnt bodies and Red Crescent workers searching for victims at the site.

The opposition Revolution Leadership Council in Damascus said the explosion was caused by a booby-trapped car.

There was no immediate indication of who was responsible for the bombing in the Barzeh al-Balad district, whose residents include members of the Sunni Muslim majority and other religious and ethnic minorities.

"The station is usually packed even when it has no fuel," said an opposition activist who did not want to be named.

"There are lots of people who sleep there overnight, waiting for early morning fuel consignments."

Second petrol station

It was the second time that a petrol station has been hit in Damascus this week.

Dozens of people were incinerated in an air strike as they waited for fuel on Wednesday, according to opposition sources.

Despite gains in other parts of Syria by rebels seeking to topple Assad, he has largely kept his grip on the capital.

But Damascus has been targeted by a number of large bombings, many of which appear to target government buildings. Some have been claimed by the opposition group Jabhat al-Nusra, which the US has designated a terrorist organisation.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast in Damascus.

Masakin Barzeh is a middle-class neighborhood northeast of downtown that is home to many government employees.

On Friday, activists said the Syrian military has bombarded the outskirts of Damascus and other areas around the country.

Anti-government rallies

Damascus-based activist Maath al-Shami says government troops are firing rockets and mortars at orchards near the southern suburbs of Daraya and Kfar Sousseh.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights meanwhile said troops were fighting rebels in Aqraba and Beit Saham, also south of Damascus, near the city's international airport.

In northern Syria, rebels were battling to seize an air base in their campaign against the air power that Assad has used to bomb rebel-held towns.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in the uprising and civil war, the United Nations said this week, a much higher death toll than previously thought. 

Protesters on Friday took to the streets across the country after Muslim prayers calling for lifting the siege on Homs neighbourhoods. The rebel-controlled areas in Old Homs district have been under government siege for the past 200 days.

Activists posted online footage of rallies in Idlib, Homs, Deraa, Deir Ezzor and in Damascus and its suburbs.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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