Car bomb kills at least 53 in Syrian capital

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Associated Press

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 21 at 10:04 PM

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The U.S., the U.N. and Syria's main opposition group are condemning Thursday's deadly car bombing in the Syrian capital.

The bomb exploded near the ruling party headquarters in Damascus, scattering mangled bodies among the blazing wreckage.

Syrian state media describe the blast as a suicide attack and say it killed at least 53 civilians and wounded more than 200, with children among the casualties. Anti-government activists put the death toll at 61.

The violence has shattered the sense of normalcy that President Bashar Assad's regime has tried to maintain in Damascus, which has largely been insulated from the bloodshed and destruction that has left other urban centers in ruins. Government warplanes have pounded opposition strongholds in the suburbs, limiting the rebels to only small incursions into the capital.

Recent bombings and mortar attacks suggest that instead of trying a major assault, rebel fighters are now resorting to guerrilla tactics.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, but suspicion will likely fall upon one of the most extreme of Syria's myriad rebel factions (Jabhat al-Nusra). The group has claimed past bombings on regime targets.

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%@AP Links

217-r-15-(Sound of earthmover being used to dig through debris, at site of deadly bomb blast)--Sound of an earthmover used to dig through bomb blast debris. It carried a water heater that Syrian security forces said contained explosives. (21 Feb 2013)

<<CUT *217 (02/21/13)>> 00:15

216-r-06-(Sound of siren and people picking through debris, at site of a deadly bomb blast)--Sound of an emergency vehicle siren and people picking through debris at the site of a deadly bomb blast in Damascus, Syria. (21 Feb 2013)

<<CUT *216 (02/21/13)>> 00:06

218-r-11-(Sound of men chanting pro-Assad slogans, at site of deadly bomb blast)--Sound of men chanting pro-Assad slogans as emergency workers cleaned up debris at the site of a deadly bomb blast in Damascus, Syria. (21 Feb 2013)

<<CUT *218 (02/21/13)>> 00:11

APPHOTO BEI109: This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows first responders working after a huge explosion that shook central Damascus, Syria, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. A car bomb shook central Damascus on Thursday, exploding near the headquarters of the ruling Baath party and the Russian Embassy, eyewitnesses and opposition activists said. (AP Photo/SANA) (27 Aug 2009)

<<APPHOTO BEI109 (08/27/09)>>

APPHOTO BEI101: In this photo provided by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian security agents carry a body following a huge explosion that shook central Damascus, Syria, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. A car bomb shook central Damascus on Thursday, exploding near the headquarters of the ruling Baath party and the Russian Embassy, eyewitnesses and opposition activists said. (AP Photo/SANA) (21 Feb 2013)

<<APPHOTO BEI101 (02/21/13)>>

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