Bombings in Syria put UN-backed initiative at stake
|Officials work at the site of a suicide bombing in front of Zein el-Abiddin Mosque in the Midan neighborhood in Damascus, Syria, April 27, 2012. A suicide bomber detonated himself Friday in a central neighborhood of the Syrian capital Damascus, leaving at least nine people dead and 29 others wounded, the state TV reported. (Xinhua/Hazim)|
DAMASCUS, April 27 (Xinhua) -- A string of bombings hit the Syrian capital of Damascus on Friday, leaving at least 11 people killed. The surge in violence dealt a tough blow to a peace plan brokered by the Arab League (AL)-UN joint envoy Kofi Annan.
About four bombings hit Damascus Friday, the deadliest of which took place in the central al-Midan neighborhood, when a suicide bomber blew himself up near a security forces' bus stationed under a bridge near a mosque apparently to prevent worshipers from staging anti-government protests, witnesses said.
Hours following the suicide bombing, the ministry of interior vowed to beat with an "iron fist" all those who might intimidate residents and spread anarchy in the country.
In a statement carried by state-run SANA news agency, the ministry called upon citizens to report any suspicious case and give information that they might obtain on terrorist activities, adding that it will not tolerate armed terrorist groups.
It said that a suicide bomber, with an explosive belt, blew himself up Friday on the main road near Zein al-Abidin Mosque in al-Midan, as worshippers were leaving the mosque, killing nine, scattering human remains of two unidentified persons and injuring 26 civilians and law-enforcement members.
It added that authorities headed to the site and took samples of the human remains to identify the terrorist, adding that investigations are underway to reveal the details of the attack.
Meanwhile, Syrian Health Minister Wael al-Halqi said Friday that the explosion basically targeted law-enforcement agents, adding that this escalation came in the framework of an anti-Syria campaign to "undermine Annan's plan that can be conducive in reaching a solution to the crisis within its six points."
The cease-fire truce, which went into effect on April 12, is part of a six-point peace plan brokered by Annan. The plan, widely backed by the international community, calls for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centers, a daily halt in fighting for the delivery of humanitarian aid and treatment for the wounded, as well as talks between the government and opposition.
"Syria is committed to this plan, but the other party isn't ... therefore, there is a surge in bombings, terrorist acts and assassination," Halqi said.
In another violence on Friday, two civilians were injured when an explosive device, allegedly planted by an armed terrorist group, went off in a police car in al-Zahira al-Jadida area east of al- Midan neighborhood, said SANA.
Another explosive device, also allegedly planted by an armed terrorist group, went off near a lighting column in al-Qaboun neighborhood, SANA said, adding that the bombing left material damages only.
Also, five law enforcement personnel were injured in two explosive device blasts in the coastal city of Tartous earlier in the day.
The Syrian government and the opposition have traded accusation regarding the escalation in violence. The UN seems to keep pressuring the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad to end the alleged crackdown, while Russia attributed the ongoing violence to provocations of the armed opposition.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Friday that the leadership's continued crackdown "has reached an unacceptable, intolerable stage," adding that he was "gravely alarmed" about the ongoing killings.
"This is in clear contravention to what the Syrian government has already agreed," he said.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that the ceasefire in Syria is unstable mainly due to provocations of the armed opposition.
"The ceasefire, announced on the basis of Kofi Annan's plan and supported by the UN Security Council, is not being stable yet, mostly because the armed opposition groups are trying to stage provocations, explosions, terror attacks and shootings," Lavrov told the Rossiya-24 TV channel.
Certain Syrian opposition groups are also seeking external intervention, he said.
Friday's escalation came as the advance team of UN observers, who arrived in Syria 10 days ago, were patrolling restive areas in Syria to monitor the government and the opposition's commitment to the UN-backed ceasefire.
The advance team of observers toured Friday the old Homs in central Syria and al-Matahen area in Hama province.
|A destroyed vehicle is seen at the site of a suicide bombing in front of Zein el-Abiddin Mosque in the Midan neighborhood in Damascus, Syria, April 27, 2012. A suicide bomber detonated himself Friday in a central neighborhood of the Syrian capital Damascus, leaving at least nine people dead and 29 others wounded, the state TV reported. (Xinhua/Hazim)|