Forty people killed in suicidal car bombings in Damascus
Syrian state media says an al-Qaeda may have been responsible
At least 40 people have been killed by two suicide car bombs in
Damascus. At least 100 other people were wounded in attacks on two
security facilities in the Kfar Sousa district. The new violence in
Syria came ahead of calls by anti-government activists for fresh
protests across the country.
Syrian state media reported that initial investigations indicate an al-Qaeda group may have been responsible for the attack.
"Several soldiers and a large number of civilians were killed in the two attacks carried out by suicide bombers in vehicles packed with explosives against bases of State Security and another branch of the security services," Syria's state-run television said.
Footage of damaged buildings and dead bodies being transferred to ambulances was broadcast.
Syria has portrayed the nine-month uprising in the country as the work of "terrorist" extremists and armed gangs.
In another part of Syria, activists reported the death of eight people in the central city of Homs. Activists say that government forces fired at protesters leaving Omar Mosque in Jandali neighborhood.
The newest violence came after the first wave of an Arab League monitoring mission arrived in Damascus to check on Syria's progress in implementing a peace plan to halt the months of unrest.
Using the slogan "Protocol of death, a license to kill", activists called on Facebook for nationwide protests against the Arab League mission after mid-day prayers.
Opposition leaders say that Syria's agreement to the mission was a mere "ploy" to head off a threat by the Arab League to go to the U.N. Security Council.
"We call on the Arab League to refer the matter of the crisis in Syria to the UN Security Council," Omar Edelbi, a spokesman for the Local Co-ordination Committees activist network said.
Edelbi called the observer mission "another attempt by the regime to bypass the Arab initiative and empty it of its contents."
The observer mission is part of an Arab plan endorsed by Syria on November 2 that also calls for the withdrawal of the military from towns and residential districts, a halt to the violence and the release of detainees.
The advance team consists of a dozen legal and administrative staff, in addition to security forces from the Arab League's secretariat that will make the logistical preparations for the arrival this weekend.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Syria, car bombings, Damascus, al-Qaeda, Arab League
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