Syrian TV: Twin bombings in Damascus kill several

The TV said civilians were among the dead after suspected al-Qaeda militants targeted bases of the General Security Directorate and another agency. But opposition activists said the government had staged the attacks to influence an Arab League observer team.They are part of a scheme aimed at ending the deadly crackdown on dissent.The UN says more than 5,000 people have been killed and thousands more detained since anti-government protests erupted in March.The monitors are tasked with overseeing the government's compliance with an agreement that should see an end to violence by both sides, troops withdrawn from the streets and all detained protesters released.Witnesses told the BBC that Friday's explosions emanated from the western Qaboun district of Damascus, close to Abbasiyyin Square, and from the Jamarek area of Mezzeh, an eastern district of the capital.The sound of gunfire was also reported in the central Malki district.State TV said several soldiers and a large number of civilians were killed in two attacks "carried about by suicide bombers driving vehicles packed with explosives against bases of State Security [General Security Directorate] and another branch of the security services"."Preliminary investigations showed al-Qaeda was responsible," it added.The channel also began broadcasting pictures of heavily damaged buildings, with rescue workers combing through burnt buildings and blood-stained debris, and ambulances taking the injured away.The Syrian government insists that the trouble in the country is caused by "armed terrorist gangs".


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