10 dead in Damascus police station bombing: NGO
DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
A car bomb exploded outside a police station in a Christian quarter of Damascus today, killing 10 people, monitors said, while a similar attack struck Syria's second city of Aleppo.
"Ten people were killed and 15 others wounded when a car bomb exploded in Bab Tuma Square in front of the police station," in the capital's Old City, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
It did not specify if the casualties were police or civilians, while a security source earlier gave a death toll of seven.
The official news agency SANA said it was "an explosive device planted under a car in the courtyard of Bab Tuma by an armed terrorist group." It caused significant material damage, state television said.
It was the first such attack in Bab Tuma, one of the oldest quarters of the capital, since an anti-regime revolt broke out in March 2011, costing 34,000 lives nationwide, according to the Observatory.
A large part of Syria's Christian community backs President Bashar al-Assad, fearful of the influence of Islamists in the revolt.
SANA also reported that a number of "terrorists" were killed when a bomb they had planted by a mosque in the Assali district of southern Damascus exploded prematurely.
The Observatory reported fierce clashes between the army and rebels in Assali, and that the bodies of two men were found shot dead in the nearby neighbourhood of Qaboon.
In the town of Harasta, the northeast of the capital, six people, including three rebels, were killed in clashes and shelling, said the watchdog, which also reported bombardment of the nearby town of Irbin.
Elsewhere, an unspecified number of soldiers were killed or wounded in a roadside bombing near Al-Tal, a town just north of Damascus.
In Aleppo, a car bomb exploded in the Sarian district, leaving body parts scattered, an AFP correspondent said. A security source said the blast was caused by "a suicide car bomber," but a casualty toll was not immediately available.
Also in the northern city, fierce clashes broke out between rebels and troops around the ancient Citadel, the Observatory said, adding that four rebels were killed in fighting across the city.
According to the AFP correspondent, Internet connections in Aleppo and other areas in the largely rebel-held north of the country were down since early Saturday, while mobile connections were unreliable.
Renewed fighting was reported at the southern entrance to Maaret al-Numan, a strategic town on the Aleppo-Damascus highway that fell under rebel control on October 9, blocking off a key army supply route.
The Observatory gave an initial toll of 55 killed across the country on Sunday: 19 civilians, 25 soldiers and 11 rebels.