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At Least 9 Killed, 100 Wounded As Syrian City Hit By Two Suicide Bombings
2012-04-30 14:07:59 (230 weeks ago)
Posted By: Intellpuke

Two suicide bombers blew up cars rigged with explosives near a military compound and a hotel in northwestern Syria on Monday, killing at least nine people and wounding nearly 100, said state media.

The state-run news agency Sana said security forces and civilians were among those killed in Idlib, and state TV said many of the wounded were civilians. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist network, put the death toll at more than 20.

The pro-government al-Ekhbariya TV aired footage of the aftermath. The force of the explosions shattered windows and scattered debris over hundreds of meters. Pro-government websites said five buildings were damaged.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. State media blamed "armed terrorists", a term it uses for rebels trying to topple the government. Activists claimed the regime was behind the bombings to discredit the opposition.

Two members of a U.N. observer team toured the scenes of the bombings, near a military compound and the Carlton Hotel several hundred meters apart, said Sana. A local activist, who gave only his first name, Ibrahim, said the observers had been staying at the Carlton, and a pro-government website reported that the hotel sustained some damage.

(story continues below)

An advance team of 16 United Nations observers is in Syria to try to salvage a ceasefire agreement that is part of a peace plan drawn up by the special envoy Kofi Annan. The head of the observer mission, Major General Robert Mood, said on Monday that his force could not solve the crisis, and urged the Syrian regime and its opponents to stop fighting.

"Ten, 30, 300 or 1,000 observers will not solve all problems. So everyone has to help us achieve this mission," Mood said in Damascus. His team is due to grow to 100 by mid-May, and eventually to 300.

An al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist group claimed responsibility on Monday for a suicide bombing in Damascus on Friday that killed at least 10 people. The Associated Press could not verify the authenticity of the statement from the Al-Nusra Front to Protect the Levant, which was posted on a militant website.

Earlier on Monday, gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades at the central bank and a police patrol in Damascus, wounding four officers, Sana reported. The bank's governor, Adib Mayaleh, said the only damage to the building was shattered windows.

He denied reports that Syria was trying to sell gold reserves to raise funds as international sanctions take their toll. The French foreign minister, Alain Juppé, said this month that the sanctions had reduced Syria's foreign currency reserves by half, from an estimated $17 billion at the start of the uprising.

Mayaleh said the bank did not need to sell gold "as we have a big quantity of hard currency that can stand up to all those attacks".

Intellpuke: You can read this Associated Press article, filed from Beirut, Lebanon, in context here:

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