Mortar fire in Damascus kills 14, wounds 86: State media

Mortar fire in Damascus kills 14, wounds 86: State media

DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
Mortar fire in Damascus kills 14, wounds 86: State media

Syrian security forces stand next to the remains of a mortar as they inspect a parking lot outside the Badr al-Din al-Hussein institute on April 29, AFP Photo / STR

Mortar shells slammed into central Damascus on April 29, hitting an educational institute in a barrage that killed at least 14 people and wounded 86, state media reported.

"Fourteen citizens were killed and 86 others wounded by terrorists who targeted the Shaghur neighbourhood in Damascus with four mortar shells," the SANA news agency said, adding that two shells hit the Badr al-Din al-Hussein institute.

The Syrian government and media use the term "terrorists" for all those seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad's government.

The institute is reportedly an Islamic law centre where students from Syria and abroad study religious jurisprudence.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the mortar attack, saying the toll was higher, with 17 people killed.

The Britain-based monitoring group said the death toll could rise as some of the injured were in critical condition.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that the institute taught students as young as 14, but it was not immediately clear if there were children among the dead or wounded.

Rebel forces arrayed in positions on the outskirts of the capital regularly fire mortar shells and rockets into the heart of Damascus, often killing civilians. Shaghur is a district in the Old City of Damascus, which has been hit by rebel fire frequently.

Car bomb, rocket fire kill 45 in Homs

Meanwhile, 45 people were killed and 85 wounded in a car bomb and rocket attack on a government-held district of the Syrian city of Homs, the provincial governor said.

Governor Talal al-Barazi told AFP the car bomb detonated in the Zahra neighbourhood in the central city, killing 36 people, adding that the blast was followed by a rocket that killed nine others.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain, said the toll was at least 37 dead and nearly 80 injured. Observatory director said all of the dead were civilians, among them at least five children.

Barazi said the high death toll was because "the Abbasiya area where the bomb detonated was crowded with pedestrians."

"The rocket fell about half an hour after the bombing on the same area, where there was a crowd of people" trying to help those injured in the blast, he said.

The attack was one of the deadliest to hit the central city, where rebels control just a few remaining districts, most of them under a tight government siege.

In the Old City, under siege for nearly two years, a few hundred fighters remain after a UN-led operation to evacuate civilians left to survive with almost no food or medicine.