At least 55 people were killed and hundreds more injured after two car bombs exploded in downtown Damascus Thursday. The attacks, which tore the front off a major intelligence compound in the Syrian capital, could signal the end of a fragile cease-fire.
From the New York Times:
Two suicide car bombs laden with more than 2,200 pounds of explosives erupted at the busy Qazzaz intersection, completely destroying 21 nearby vehicles and damaging more than 100 others, according to a statement from the Interior Ministry read on state television.
The compound housed two major branches of the military intelligence, one known officially as the Palestine Branch but ironically nicknamed the “Sheraton” by prisoners because detainees from so many nations had been incarcerated and tortured there over the years, activists said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although the running commentary on the official media was that it was the work of “terrorists” being financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The opposition blamed the government of President Bashar al-Assad, claiming it was trying to frighten ordinary Syrians over the cost of opposing the government by proving its own claims that Al Qaeda was bent on destabilizing the country.
A cameraman filming the aftermath of the first explosion caught the second blast. Via Al Jazeera: