Syria blames 'terrorists' for petrol station car bomb

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 January, 2013, 4:06am

Syria yesterday said a car bomb at a crowded petrol station in Damascus on Thursday night was set off by "terrorists", a term it uses for rebels seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

The bomb killed 11 people and wounded 40 as drivers queued for fuel, which has become scarce in the 21-month insurgency against Assad.

It was the second petrol station attack in the capital this week. Dozens of people were incinerated in an air strike as they waited for fuel at another petrol station on Wednesday.

The semi-official al-Ikhbariya television station aired footage from Thursday's attack, indicating it was in the government-held area of Barzeh. Residents include members of the Sunni Muslim majority and religious and ethnic minorities.

Rebels hold a number of suburbs on the southern and eastern edges of Damascus, which have come under bombardment by government forces. Rebel forces also seized territory in Syria's north and east during advances in the second half of last year.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Lebanon, which has so far tried to distance itself from the Syrian conflict for fear it will inflame sectarian tensions, approved a plan to start registering 170,000 Syrian refugees and ask international donors for US$180 million in aid.

The United Nations says more than 60,000 people have been killed in the civil war, the longest, bloodiest conflict born from uprisings across the Arab world in the past two years.

Syria has slammed the UN report as "biased" for saying the conflict was overtly sectarian.

The foreign ministry accused the UN of a "lack of professionalism" in producing its report, and said any sectarian dimensions to the conflict were because of foreign support for "armed groups".

Reuters, Agence France-Presse