Car bomb kills 9 in Syria amid fears of Al Qaeda links to attacks
BEIRUT -- A car bomb targeting a military complex in an eastern Syrian city Saturday killed at least nine people and left dozens injured amid growing fears that Al Qaeda might be behind some of the attacks in the country.
The bombing in Deir Ezzor damaged homes and government buildings, state media reported. Both civilians and military guards were killed by the suicide bomber, who ignited the explosives while inside the car.
The complex houses the branches of military intelligence and the much-feared air force intelligence as well as a military hospital, according to the anti-government Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The group reported that gunfire followed the explosion.
The Syrian Arab News Agency reported that the car was packed with more than 2,200 pounds of explosives, the exact amount it cited was used in a bombing in the Syrian capital, Damascus, two weeks ago.
The latest bombing in the Syrian conflict, which has seen an increasing use of large explosives in recent months, came two days after United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon blamed Al Qaeda for the attack in Damascus two weeks ago that killed 55 people.
The opposition, however, has continued to blame the regime itself for perpetrating the explosions in an attempt to portray the activists and rebels as terrorists.
A spokesman for U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan expressed concern about new fighters in the conflict.
"[Annan] has also said that there is a third element that appeared on the ground in Syria, which is worrying," said the spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi. "We have not yet been able to ascertain who this element belongs to -– who it is -– and we are in the process of doing so."
Though it has yet to be verified, Fawzi said, the explosions have characteristics that appear to come from parties other than the opposition or the Syrian government.
On Saturday, the observatory group also reported that gunmen in a town in Aleppo province launched rocket-propelled grenades at the ruling Baath Party headquarters. Clashes followed between security guards at the headquarters and the gunmen. The activist group said the attackers were unknown.
In the northwest province of Idlib, clashes erupted between rebel fighters and government troops near the Turkish border. Four rebels were killed and three government tanks were destroyed, activists said.
-- Times staff
Photo: U.N. Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous speaks at a news conference in Damascus, Syria, on Saturday. Credit: Syrian Arab News Agency