Syria: Car bomb kills several in Damascus | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 08.04.2013
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Middle East

Syria: Car bomb kills several in Damascus

A car bomb has exploded in the Syrian capital's central district, causing damage to nearby buildings and killing several people. Meanwhile, Ban Ki-Moon has called on Syria to allow access to weapons inspectors.

At least 15 people were killed Monday and 53 injured when the bomb hit central Damascus, Syrian state television reported.

"Terrorists detonated a car bomb between Sabaa Bahrat square and Shahbander Street," the Syrian broadcaster said.

Television footage showed firefighters on the scene trying to extinguish the flames from nearby cars. The Syrian central bank, a mosque and a school are located nearby.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

The civil war between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the anti-government opposition recently entered its third year. Over 70,000 have died since the fighting began, according to the United Nations. Over one million refugees have fled into neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to escape the violence and destruction.

Ban calls for immediate weapons inspections

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on President al-Assad to allow weapons inspectors to investigate reports of chemical weapons attacks.

"[These allegations] should be examined without delay, without conditions and without exceptions," said Ban, while speaking at the Chemical Weapons Convention at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague on Monday.

Late last month, Assad's government and the Syrian opposition had both claimed that the other side had used chemical weapons, once near Damascus and once near Aleppo. President Assad then asked the UN to investigate the matter after alleging that the Syrian opposition had used chemical weapons in the armed conflict in March. However, since issuing the request, he has not allowed investigators to enter Syria.

"All we are waiting for is the go-ahead of the Syrian government to determine if any chemical weapons have been deployed," said Ban.

The UN has sent a team of experts to Cyprus, who could access Syria within hours, he added.

kms/ccp  (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)