BEIRUT: A car bomb killed 59 people and wounded 200 in central Damascus yesterday when it blew up on a busy highway close to ruling Baath Party offices and the Russian Embassy, state media and activists said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blast killed at least 59 people, including 15 soldiers, and wounded more than 200. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Among the lightly wounded was Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine chief Nayef Hawatmeh, the DFLP said.
Syrian television showed charred and bloodied bodies strewn across the street after the blast, which it described as a suicide bombing by “terrorists” battling President Bashar Al Assad.
The Mazraa car bomb was detonated at a checkpoint close to the Baath Party building, located about 200 metres from the Russian embassy.
Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency quoted a diplomat as saying the Mazraa blast blew out windows at the Russian Embassy, but no employees were wounded.
The vehicle was carrying between 1 and 1.5 tonnes of explosives, Damascus Governor Bishr Sabban said. A Syrian Television correspondent counted 17 burnt-out cars and another 40 that were destroyed or badly damaged by the force of the blast, which ripped a crater 1.5 metres deep into the road. Agencies