DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Twin car bombs ripped through a Damascus suburb on Wednesday, killing at least 34 people and leaving dozens critically wounded, according to state media and hospital officials.
The state news agency, SANA, said two cars packed with explosives detonated early in the morning in the eastern Jaramana suburb, a district that is mostly loyal to President Bashar Assad. The area is populated mostly by Christians and Druse, a minority sect.
A series of car and suicide bombings have struck regime targets in Damascus and elsewhere since last December, raising fears of a rising Islamic militant element among the forces seeking to topple Assad.
Wednesday's car bombs went off in a parking lot located between two commercial buildings. They were detonated within five minutes of one another as groups of laborers and employees were arriving to work.
The blasts shattered windows in nearby buildings, littering the street with glass and debris. Human remains were scattered on the pavement amid pools of blood.
After the first explosion, people rushed to help the injured and then the second bomb went off, said Ismail Zlaiaa, 54, who lives in the neighborhood. "It is an area packed with rush-hour passengers," he said, and added: "God will not forgive the criminal perpetrators."
Ibtissam Nseir, a 45-year-old school teacher, said the bombing struck minutes before she set off for work. She said there were no troops around the district and wondered why the attackers would target it. Nseir blamed opposition fighters for the attack.
"Is this the freedom which they want? Syria is a secure country and it will remain so," she said.
There were conflicting reports about the death toll. Two hospital officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, said at least 30 bodies were brought to two nearby hospitals. The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on reports from the ground, said 29 people were killed.