DAMASCUS, SYRIA (BNO NEWS) — Two suicide bombers attacked two public places in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Thursday, killing at least 55 people and injuring more than 370 others, government officials said. It is the worst attack since the conflict began last year.
The blasts took place during morning rush hour at around 7:55 a.m. local time when two attackers detonated their explosives-laden vehicles near the crowded al-Qazaz intersection at the southern ring-road and near a military intelligence building. Officials said more than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of explosives were used.
The explosions, which caused two huge craters at the scene, devastated nearby buildings, blowing off the facade of the military intelligence building, and destroyed some 100 cars and pickup trucks. One of the attacks may have been preceded by a small blast to attract more people to the scene.
The Interior Ministry said at least 55 people were killed and 372 others were injured, many of whom were in a critical condition. Relief workers have also collected 15 bags containing numerous body parts, making it likely that the death toll will continue to rise further. Both civilians and security forces were believed to be among those killed and injured.
“The explosions caused huge material damage to public and private properties, in addition to inflicting damage to around 400 houses,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Footage aired by state-run television showed graphic images of heavily burnt bodies at the scene.
Meanwhile, the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations (UN) and the League of Arab States on the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan, condemned the attacks, which were described as ‘abhorrent acts’ and ‘unacceptable.’ Annan also underlined that the violence in Syria “must stop,” as he extended his condolences to the families of the victims.
It was not known who was behind Thursday’s attacks.
The crisis in Syria, which began in March 2011 as a protest movement similar to those across the Middle East and North Africa, has claimed over 9,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands.