Policeman killed in bomb blast near mosque in Damascus

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At least five policeman have been killed when a bomb went off outside a mosque in the Syrian capital Damascus.

The bomb exploded in the northern neighbourhood of Rukneddine as worshippers were leaving the Rukniyeh mosque after Friday prayers.

Syrian TV said five policemen were killed, and an official at the scene said that six died.

A reporter at the scene said the bomb went off across the street from the mosque and damaged a clinic as well as six cars. Officials said the bomb was placed on a motorcycle.

The brick wall over the entrance of the clinic collapsed, and blood could be seen on the wall and in the street.

Later a second bomb exploded in Damascus near two government ministries, state TV said.

The bombing in the upmarket neighbourhood of Mazze caused no casualties, but damaged a number of vehicles.

The bomb went off between the buildings of the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Justice, which are about 100 metres apart.Friday is the weekend in Syria and institutions are usually closed.

In recent months, the Syrian capital has been hit by a string of bombings.

On Sunday, two bombs exploded in Damascus near the offices of the Syrian military’s joint chiefs of staff, slightly wounding four army officers and damaging buildings and cars.

Syria’s uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March last year, when protests calling for political change met a violent government crackdown. Many in the opposition have since taken up arms as the conflict has transformed into a civil war that activists say has killed more than 23,000 people. The government says more than 4,000 security officers are among the dead.

Earlier yesterday, activists reported clashes between troops and rebels in s southern Damascus neighbourhood.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Local Co-ordination Committees had no immediate word on casualties from yesterday’s clashes in Kazaz, which is a tightly controlled area, home to offices of several Syrian security agencies.

For more than a year after the uprising against Assad’s rule began, Damascus stayed relatively quiet. Then in July, rebels launched a bold attack, capturing several neighbourhoods.

Government forces have regained control of most of them.

The Observatory reported many arrests in the town of Tel Chehab on the border with Jordan, recaptured by troops on Thursday.