Updated: At least 40 dead in Damascus blasts, Syria accuses Al-Qaeda

Reuters , Friday 23 Dec 2011

The Syrian regime points fingers at Al-Qaeda after two cars blew up at security sites in Damscus, coming a day after the first wave of the Arab League delegation arrived to prepare for their observation mission

Black smoke is seen from Homs refinery in Syria, December 8, 2011. (Photo:Reuters)

Two booby-trapped cars blew up at Syrian security sites in Damascus on Friday, state television said, and witnesses heard large blasts rock the capital. At least 40 were killed and 55 were wounded,  according to Syrian military officials.

The military official says more than a hundred people were wounded in the explosions targeting security and intelligence headquarters in the Syrian capital. He spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to give official statements. He declined to say how many civilians and military personnel were among the deaths.

Syrian state television said initial investigations indicated that al Qaeda was behind the attacks. A witness from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said he heard heavy gunfire break out after the blasts.

The attacks came a day after the first wave of an Arab League observation mission landed in Damascus to prepare for an monitoring team that will check if Syria is implementing a peace plan to halt months of bloodshed.

Syrian security forces have launched a fierce crackdown on nine months of anti-government protests.

In recent months, the peaceful pro-democracy movement has been overshadowed by pockets of armed insurgency that have begun to launch what they call defensive attacks against Syrian forces.

Friday's attacks hit a state security administration building and a local security branch, state television said.

Last month, a small blast was reported near a Syrian intelligence building in Damascus, but there was little damage.

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