Islamist group says it carried out Damascus bombing

CAIRO Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:14pm EDT

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Islamist group called "al-Nusra Front" claimed responsibility on Sunday for a suicide bombing which killed at least nine people in the Syrian capital Damascus on Friday.

The group named the bomber as Abu Omar al-Shami and said he detonated his explosives amidst 150 members of the Syrian security forces who were gathered outside the Zain al-Abideen mosque in the Midan district of Damascus.

It was not possible to verify the statement.

Al-Nusra has also claimed responsibility for a January suicide bombing in Midan and other bombings in Damascus and in the northern city of Aleppo.

In a statement posted on the Islamist web forum al-Shamukh it said Friday's bombing targeted the "aggressors who surround the houses of God" to attack worshippers after weekly prayers.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is battling a 13-month uprising which broke out as a mainly peaceful protest movement but has become increasingly militarized.

The United Nations says Assad's forces have killed 9,000 people, but Syrian authorities blame foreign-backed militants for the violence and say more than 2,600 police and soldiers have been killed.

State media reported the funeral of 22 security force members on Saturday, including six of the people killed in the Midan explosion.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelatti; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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