Two bombs, one of which struck a mosque at the end of crowded Friday prayers, have exploded in Syria’s capital, leaving at least five people dead.
The first bombing, outside the Rukniyeh mosque in northern Damascus, killed at least five security troops and wounded several civilians, state media and anti-government activist groups said.
“A terrorist attack carried out with a motorcycle loaded with explosives struck the exit of Rukniyeh mosque as worshippers were making their way out,” the state media report said.
The second blast, a car bomb near the city’s main courthouse and the information ministry, occurred later. No casualties were reported after that blast.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-government rights group based in the UK, said that six security personnel were also badly wounded in the mosque explosion.
A reporter for the AP news agency at the scene said the bomb went off across the street from the mosque and damaged a clinic as well as six cars. The brick wall over the entrance of the clinic collapsed, and blood could be seen on the wall and in the street.
Meanwhile, separate clashes were reported in the Damascus neighbourhood of Tadamun between pro- and anti-government forces. The Observatory, which maintains connections with anti-government activists on the ground, said that a rebel had been killed there.
Witnesses told the AFP news agency that the neighbouring Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk came under heavy shelling, and the Observatory reported that a civilian had been killed there. State media claimed that anti-government fighters had raided the camp.
Clashes were also reported in the al-Qazzaz district in southeast Damascus, where the Observatory said that troops rounded up dozens of suspected anti-government fighters.
Damascus has seen increasing violence in recent weeks, as President Bashar al-Assad’s government has renewed its effort to put down the 18-month uprising.
Armed rebel brigades have in the past taken responsibility for explosions targeting government and military officials.
Anti-government activists say that more than 23,000 people have been killed in the conflict.