Bomb hits Syria as Hamas’ help sought
BEIRUTAn explosion ripped through a busy intersection in the Syrian capital on Jan. 6, hitting a police bus and killing at least 11 people and possibly many more in an attack that left pools of blood in the streets, marking the second deadly attack in the capital in as many weeks, Syrian authorities said.
Interior Minister Mohammed Shaar blamed a suicide bomber for the blast, which comes exactly two weeks after twin bombings in the capital killed 44 people. The bombings are a dramatic escalation of bloodshed as Arab League observers tour the country to investigate President Bashar al-Assad’s bloody crackdown on a 10-month-old popular revolt. Shaar said 11 people have been confirmed dead. Authorities believe another 14 were also killed, based on human remains recovered from the scene. This brings the death toll to 25, state TV said. More than 60 people were wounded.
The blast occurred two days before an Arab League committee was due to discuss an initial report of Arab observers who are checking Syria’s compliance with an Arab plan to halt al-Assad’s crackdown on unrest. On Dec. 23, 2011, the day before Arab League observers arrived in Damascus, at least 44 people were killed by what Syrian authorities said were two suicide bombings targeted at security buildings in the Syrian capital.
Nabil Elaraby, the Arab League’s secretary-general, said after meeting Meshaal in Cairo he had given the leader of the militant Palestinian Islamist group a message for the Syrian authorities: “It is necessary to work with integrity, transparency and credibility to halt the violence that is happening in Syria.” Elaraby said Meshaal had played a role in convincing the Syrian government to sign the Arab League protocol. “Since the start of the crisis, we in Hamas and me personally have made a huge effort to solve the crisis via a political solution, and we have maintained these efforts,” Meshaal said. Damascus is the main Hamas headquarters outside of the Gaza Strip, which it has governed since seizing control there in 2007. Together with Iran, Syria has been one of Hamas’ main regional allies.
Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.