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IS jihadist group claims Damascus shrine bomb attacks

Update: February, 22/2016 - 11:50

BEIRUT — The Islamic State jihadist group said it carried out two suicide bombing attacks Sunday near a Shiite shrine south of Syria's capital that a monitoring group said killed 68 people.

IS said two militants blew themselves up at the Sayyida Zeinab shrine area, although state television and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported three bomb attacks.

Near Damascus, a car bombing followed by two consecutive suicide attacks ripped through the area of the Shiite shrine of Sayyida Zeinab and killed 83 people, Syria's official news agency SANA reported.

SANA, quoting a police source, said 178 people, including children, were among the wounded. State television said the attacks came as pupils were leaving school in the area.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights gave a lower toll of 68 dead but said many wounded were in critical condition.

An AFP reporter said the blasts struck about 400 metres from the revered Shiite shrine containing the grave of a granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammed.

At least 60 shops were damaged and cars reduced to mangled metal. A January attack in the same area -- also claimed by IS -- killed 70 people.

The Observatory also reported that two car bombs killed at least 59 people and wounded dozens in the pro-regime district of Al-Zahraa in the central city of Homs.

State television footage from Homs showed emergency workers carrying a charred body on a stretcher past devastated shops and mangled cars and minibuses.

Al-Zahraa -- whose residents are mostly from the same Alawite sect of Shia Islam as Syria's ruling clan -- has been regularly targeted. — AFP


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