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Middle East

Suicide bomber kills 25 in Syria


An explosion ripped through a busy junction in the Syrian capital, Damascus, yesterday, hitting a police bus and killing up to 25 people in what Syrian authorities said was the second suicide attack in as many weeks.

The bus was left riddled with shrapnel, blood splattered on its seats and pooled on the asphalt of the street after the blast, which came two weeks after twin bombings targeting intelligence agencies in the capital killed 44 people.

The bombings mark a dramatic escalation of bloodshed as Arab League observers tour the country to investigate President Bashar al-Assad's bloody crackdown on a 10-month-old popular revolt.

The Interior Minister, Mohammed Shaar, said a suicide bomber "detonated himself with the aim of killing the largest number of people". Syria's state news agency, Sana, said many of the 25 victims were civilians.

In a sign of just how polarised Syria has become, the opposition has questioned the government's allegations that terrorists are behind the attacks – suggesting the regime itself could have been behind the violence to try to erode support for the uprising and show the observer team that it is a victim in the country's upheaval.

The government has long contended that the turmoil is not an uprising but the work of terrorists and foreign-backed armed gangs.

The opposition has produced no evidence backing its accusations, and no one but Syrian authorities has access to investigate the blasts.