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17 Killed, 14 Injured in Damascus Car Bomb Explosion

17 die in Damascus explosion

Damascus, Sept 27, IRNA

17 people were killed and 14 were wounded after a car bomb exploded in southern Damascus on Saturday.

The explosion occurred on the airport road and the car was apparently rigged with some 440 pounds of explosives.

The explosion occurred near a security installation on the airport road at an intersection leading to the site of Hazrat-e Zeinab (SA) holy shrine.

The shrine is popular with pilgrims from Iran and Lebanon.

Security forces cordoned off the area, witnesses said.

"Investigations by the Terrorism Combating Unit are underway to identify the attackers," the television said.

It is the first explosion in Syria since the car bomb assassination of Imad Moghniyah, commander of Hezbollah of Lebanon, in February.


Car bomb kills 17 in Syrian capital

Sep 27, 2008, 7:32 AM EDT

By ALBERT AJI, Associated Press Writer

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) --

A car packed with explosives detonated on a crowded residential street Saturday, killing 17 people and wounding more than a dozen others, state-run television reported.

The car was packed with 440 pounds of explosives when it blew up on Mahlak Street, shattering apartment building and car windows and twisting the roof of one car, according to footage aired on Syrian TV.

Syrian Interior Minister Bassam Abdul-Majid called the bombing a "terrorist act" and said all of the victims were civilians. He declined to say who was behind the blast.

"We cannot accuse any party. There are ongoing investigations that will lead us to those who carried it out," Abdul-Majid told state TV.

The 8:45 a.m. explosion occurred in a southern neighborhood of the capital near the junction to the city's international airport, at an intersection leading to Saydah Zeinab, a holy shrine for Shi'i Muslims that is frequently visited by Iranian and Iraqi pilgrims about five miles away.

Such bombings are rare in Syria.

But over the last year, the country has witnessed two major assassinations.

Saturday's bombing was by far the largest and tested weaknesses of the government's traditionally tight security grip.

Al-Manar, a satellite TV station allied with Lebanon's resistance movement, Hizbullah, reported that witnesses said more than 14 people were injured including children.

An intelligence building is located in the area, but cars are not normally allowed to park nearby and it was not clear how close the bombing was to the building.

The last major explosion to strike Damascus was in February when a car bomb killed Imad Mughniyeh, one of the world's most wanted and elusive terrorists. The former Hizbullah security chief was suspected of masterminding attacks that killed hundreds of Americans in Lebanon and brutal kidnappings of Westerners.

Hizbullah and its top ally, Iran, blamed Israel for the assassination, but Israel denied any involvement.

In September 2006, there was an attempt to storm the U.S. Embassy in Damascus in an unusually brazen attack in which three assailants and a Syrian guard were killed.

Recently, however, Syria has been trying to change its image and emerge from international isolation, agreeing to establish diplomatic ties with Lebanon and pursuing indirect peace talks with Israel.

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