Syria says Islamist bomber behind deadly blast

DAMASCUS Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:07pm EDT

1 of 3. The Syrian flag is seen through a shattered windscreen after an explosion on the main road to the city's airport in Damascus September 27, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Khaled al-Hariri

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DAMASCUS (Reuters) - An Islamist suicide bomber was responsible for a car bomb on Saturday that killed 17 people in Syria, the state news agency reported on Monday.

The SANA news agency said the vehicle had entered Syria from a neighboring Arab country on Sept 26. It did not say which country. Syria's Arab neighbors are Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan.

"Investigations showed that a terrorist was driving the car and blew himself up and the car. Confirmation of his identity is underway via a DNA examination of the remains of his corpse," SANA said.

The bomber was linked to an Islamist group, members of which had previously been detained, SANA added. There have been no claims of responsibility for the attack.

The bomb, whose victims were civilians, exploded near a security complex and at an intersection leading to the Sit Zeinab shrine -- a place of pilgrimage for Shi'ite Muslims.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier this month said he was worried about foreign-backed "extremists forces" in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. He called for a solution to what he said was the rising threat of Islamist militants based in the Lebanese city.

Assad said there were countries who were supporting the militants but he did not identify them.

A car bomb blast ripped through a bus carrying soldiers in Tripoli on Monday, killing at least five people and wounding 28.

The blast in Damascus was the third major security incident this year in Syria, following the assassination of the military commander of Lebanese group Hezbollah in February and the shooting dead of a senior military aide to Syria's president in August.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Matthew Jones )

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