The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Nation & World

April 29, 2013

Syrian premier escapes bomb attack in Damascus

DAMASCUS, Syria —  Syria's prime minister escaped an assassination attempt Monday when a bomb went off near his convoy in Damascus, state media reported, the latest attack targeting a top official in President Bashar Assad's regime.

Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi was unhurt in the bombing in the capital's western neighborhood of Mazzeh, state TV said. The TV showed footage of heavily damaged cars and debris in the area as firefighters fought to extinguish a large blaze set off by the explosion.

The state SANA news agency said one person was killed and several were wounded in the blast.

The daring attack in the upscale neighborhood, which is home to many embassies and government officials, was another blow to the regime, exposing its vulnerability in the very seat of Assad's powerbase.

Syria's conflict started with largely peaceful anti-government protests in March 2011 but eventually turned into a civil war that has so far killed more than 70,000 people, according to the United Nations.

A Syrian government official told The Associated Press that an improvised explosive device was placed under a car that was parked in the area and was detonated as al-Halqi's car drove by. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The state-run Al-Ikhbariya station said al-Halqi went into a regular weekly meeting with an economic committee straight after the bombing and showed him sitting around a table in a room with several other officials.

The TV said it was showing the video as a proof that al-Halqi was not hurt. But the prime minister's comments after the meeting did not refer to Monday's blast and he was not asked about it by reporters, leaving doubts as to whether the footage was filmed before or after the bombing.

Al-Halqi condemned the blast, SANA said, adding that the attempt exposes how armed groups "are bankrupt" after the latest advances made by Syrian troops around the country.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday's bombing killed al-Halqi's bodyguard and that one of his drivers was in critical condition. The group relies on a network of activist around the country.

The brazen attack in the highly secure Mazzeh neighborhood took place only about 100 meters (yards) from the residence of the Swiss ambassador. The posh area is also home to a major military air base, and security forces sealed it off shortly after the blast, allowing only pedestrians to come close.

At the scene of the bombing, damaged cars were surrounded by debris, their seats soaked with blood. A blackened shell of a school bus was left standing. A man told state TV that none of the students on board were hurt because the explosion went off shortly after they had left the bus and headed into the school.

The attack was not the first targeting a high official in the Syrian capital over the past year.

On July 18, a blast at the Syrian national security building in Damascus during a meeting of Cabinet ministers killed top four officials, including the defense minister and his deputy, who was Assad's brother-in-law. That attack also wounded the interior minister.

In December, a car bomb targeted the Interior Ministry in Damascus, killing several people and wounding more than 20, including Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar. Initially, Syrian state media said al-Shaar was not hurt in the Dec. 12 blast. News of his wounds emerged a week later, after he was brought to neighboring Lebanon for medical treatment for a serious back injury.

Earlier in April, Ali Ballan, head of public relations at the Ministry of Social Affairs and a member of Syria's relief agency, was shot dead while dinning in a restaurant in Mazzeh.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday's attack.

Massive bombings like the one that struck the prime minister's convoy have been a trademark of Islamic radicals fighting alongside the Syrian rebels, raising concerns about the extremists' role in Syria's civil war.

Al-Halqi, a senior member of Assad's ruling Baath party, took office last year after his predecessor, Riad Hijab, defected to Jordan. Al-Halqi was Syria's health minister before taking the post. He is a member of Assad's ruling Baath party and hails from the southern city of Daraa, the birthplace of the Syrian uprising.

Elsewhere in Syria, the Observatory reported fighting Monday near the Damascus International Airport to the south of the capital. The group said there were also clashes in the northern neighborhood of Barzeh and shelling of the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, south of Damacus.

The Observatory and another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, reported clashes and air raids around the military helicopter base of Mannagh near the border with Turkey in the northern province of Aleppo. On Sunday, the Aleppo Media Center said that the rebels have seized 60 percent of the Mannagh air base.

Both groups also reported clashes and shelling Monday in the northwestern province of Idlib and the central region of Homs.

 

1
Text Only
Nation & World
  • spt_flanagan.jpg Hometown favorite wants to win Boston Marathon, for Boston

    Shalane Flanagan grew up in nearby Marblehead with a reverence for the Boston Marathon and dreamed, like many locals and foreign runners alike, that she would win the race someday. Her goal has changed now.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_felumlee.jpg Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

    A couple who held hands at breakfast every morning even after 70 years of marriage have died 15 hours apart.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_missingboymass.jpg Body found by highway is missing Massachusetts boy

    The body of a small boy apparently cast off the side of a highway has been confirmed as a missing 5-year-old, authorities said Saturday.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_mounteverest.jpg 13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche

    Search teams recovered a 13th body Saturday from the snow and ice covering a dangerous climbing pass on Mount Everest, where an avalanche a day earlier swept over a group of Sherpa guides in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_malaysiaairlines.jpg Sub search for missing jet to be finished within a week

    A robotic submarine looking for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet is expected to finish searching a patch of the Indian Ocean seabed within a week after so far coming up empty, and the search area may be expanded after that, officials said Saturday.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_bostonofficerslain.jpg MIT honors officer slain after Boston Marathon bombings

    Like many other youngsters, Sean Collier wanted to be a police officer. Unlike most, he brought that dream to life — and then died doing it, becoming a central character in the gripping hunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_eyewitness.jpg Eyewitness testimony no longer a gold standard

    The American legal system offers few moments as dramatic as an eyewitness to a crime pointing his finger across a crowded courtroom at a defendant. The problem is that decades of studies show eyewitness testimony is right only about half the time.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • FEA - HB0121 - flu - 05 Second wave of milder flu hitting Northeast

    Months ago, the flu season seemed to be winding down. But health officials on Friday reported widespread flu-like illnesses in six states.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - HB0525 - marijuana - JM -pic (4).jpg Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

    A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_skoreaferry.jpg Ferry captain arrested in South Korea disaster

    A prosecutor says the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago has been arrested.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium