Damascus: A suicide bomber blew up a vehicle near an important Shiite shrine in Syria's capital Damascus on Thursday, wounding 14 people, state media and witnesses said, as 35 people were reported killed across the country.
Official news agency SANA said the vehicle exploded in a garage 50 metres from Sayyida Zeinab shrine.
There was "substantial damage in the area of the blast" and "the terrorist who carried out the operation was killed," it said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, citing anti-regime activists, said the bomb went off near security offices, damaging the apparent target as well as the shrine, as seen in a video posted on the Internet.
A witness said a van drove at speed into the parking lot at 6 am local time and exploded among parked vehicles, including pilgrim buses. The vehicles and a police station were damaged, an AFP photographer said.
The windows of the mausoleum were shattered and its air vents ripped out by the blast, which left a three-metre crater. Tiles on the minarets were damaged.
International peace envoy Kofi Annan has warned that Syria's nearly 16 months of deadly unrest could become all-out sectarian war.
Most of Syria's 22-million population are Sunni Muslims, while its minorities include Alawites, an offshoot Shiite community to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, mainly from Syria's ally Iran, travel each year to the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab, a granddaughter of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad, in an area of south Damascus that is home to many Iraqi refugees.
Story first published:
June 15, 2012 09:18 IST