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Syrian government: More than 30 killed, 100 wounded in Damascus bombings
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) ' Syria's deputy foreign minister says more than 30 people were killed and 100 wounded in twin suicide car bombings in Damascus.
Faysal Mekdad has given the toll while accompanying an advance team of Arab League observers to the scene of the blasts, which state TV says targeted security and intelligence headquarters and appared to have been carried out by al-Qaida.
Mekdad says the blasts bolster the Syrian government's claims that the turmoil shaking the country since March was the work of terrorists, telling reporters, "We said it from the beginning."
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) ' Twin explosions shook the heart of the Syrian capital Friday, and state TV blamed a double suicide car bombing that it said may have been the work of al-Qaida.
The state TV report said a number of military personnel and civilians were killed in the blasts targeting the state security building and an intelligence building. It did not give a specific number, but said most of the dead were civilians.
The blasts are the first such attack in the Syrian capital since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad in March and came a day after an advance team of Arab League observers arrived in the country on a mission to try to resolve the turmoil.
The government has long depicted the uprising as the work of terrorists and armed gangs.
The state TV report, about an hour after the blasts went off, said initial investigations showed involvement by the al-Qaida terrorist network. It showed footage of several mutilated and torn bodies on the ground, with rubble, twisted debris and burned cars littering the road. Bystanders and ambulance workers used blankets and stretchers to carry blood-stained bodies into vehicles.
The explosions went off within minutes of each other, shaking residents around the city, in the morning Friday, a weekend day. They took place in the upscale Kfar Sousa district, and state TV said they targeted the state security building and a nearby intelligence building in the neighborhood.
"The explosions shook the house, it was frightful," said Nidal Hamidi, 34, a Syrian journalist who lives in Kfar Sousa. He said gunfire was heard immediately following the explosion and said apartment windows in a radius area of 200 meters from the explosions o were shattered.
The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed in the crackdown waged since March by the Syrian regime against protesters. With the arrival of Arab observers, the government has been eager to make its case, saying Thursday that 2,000 of its security personnel and soldiers have been killed in the turmoil.
Karam contributed from Beirut, Lebanon.