At least 13 people have been killed and 29 injured as a powerful blast hit outside a police station in Bab Touma neighborhood in the old part of Damascus, reports the state news agency. It comes as Lakhdar Brahimi visits the Syrian capital for talks.
Smoke rose above what were believed to be twin car bomb explosions in front of a police station, witnesses said. Other reports suggest it was a taxi rigged with explosives.
Ambulances were seen rushing to the scene as police shut access to the area, Twitter user NMSyria reports.
At least 13 people were killed by the blast, SANA reported citing sources in the Interior Ministry. But given that the area is usually crowded, there are fears the death toll could be much higher. It is also unclear whether any police staff are among those dead or injured.
Several cars were burnt in the blast and houses sustained extensive damage. The area was busy at the time of the explosion, with people returning from Sunday prayers. Bab Touma is a predominantly Christian neighborhood. It is also a popular shopping place in Damascus.
Two more bombings were reported to have occurred in Syria on Sunday. An explosive device, planted “by terrorists”, detonated on a road in the capital’s neighborhood, injuring several passers-by. A suicide bomber blew up his car outside a Syrian-French Hospital in the besieged city of Aleppo. The latter instance resulted in material damage only, SANA said.
Meanwhile, the UN and Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is in Damascus for talks. On Sunday he met with President Bashar al-Assad in a bid to arrange ceasefire for the period of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, taking place next week.
“I appeal to everyone to take a unilateral decision to cease hostilities on the occasion of Eid al-Adha and that this truce be respected from today or tomorrow,” Brahimi told reporters in Damascus after meeting with Assad.