Damascus:(APS)March 12, 2017- The death toll from twin bombs targeting Shia pilgrims visiting a pilgrimage site in Damascus has climbed to 74, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Sunday, with over 100 people wounded in the attacks.
Most of the dead in Saturday’s attack were Iraqi Shias who were going to visit a cemetery near the Old City of Damascus.
There has been no claim of responsibility. The Hezbollah-run al-Manar TV station said it was carried out by two suicide bombers.
A roadside bomb detonated as a bus passed by and a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Bab al Saghir area, which houses several mausoleums that draw pilgrims from around the world, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
A witness told AFP that the second bomb exploded as passers-by gathered at the scene of the first attack, and state television said a booby-trapped motorcycle was defused nearby.
Syrian state television said at least 120 people were wounded after “terrorists detonated two bombs”.
It broadcast footage of several white buses with their windows shattered, some charred and peppered with shrapnel. Shoes, glasses and wheelchairs lay scattered on ground covered in blood.
Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad Shaar said the attack targeted “pilgrims of various Arab nationalities”.
“The sole aim was to kill,” he said.
There have been periodic bombings in Damascus, but the stronghold of the regime of President Bashar al Assad has been largely spared the destruction faced by other major cities in six years of civil war.
Shia shrines are a frequent target of attack for extremists of Al Qaeda and the militant Islamic State group (IS), not only in Syria but also in neighbouring Iraq.
The foreign ministry in Damascus condemned “the cowardly terrorist attack which comes in response to victories of the Syrian Arab Army” against militants.
The Sayyida Zeinab mausoleum to the south of Damascus, Syria’s most visited Shia pilgrimage site, has been hit by several deadly bombings during the war.
Twin suicide bombings in the high-security Kafr Sousa district of the capital in January killed 10 people, eight of them soldiers.
That attack was claimed by former Al Qaeda affiliate Fateh al Sham Front, which said that it had targeted Russian military advisers working with the Syrian army.