Bombers bring carnage to streets of India and Syria as scores die

A pair of bombs exploded in a crowded shopping area in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, killing at least 11 people and wounding 50 more.

The blasts occurred about two minutes apart at around 7 pm outside a cinema and a bus station, police said. Storefronts were shattered, motorcycles covered in debris, and food and plates from a roadside restaurant were scattered on the ground near a tangle of dead bodies. Passers-by rushed the bleeding and wounded out of the area.

“This is a dastardly attack, the guilty will not go unpunished,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said. He appealed to the public to remain calm.

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The bombs were attached to two bicycles about 150 metres (150 yards) apart in a crowded shopping district in Dilsukh Nagar, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said. Eight people died in one explosion and three in the other, Mr Shinde said in New Delhi.

The explosions were the first major bomb attack to hit India since a September 2011 blast outside the High Court in New Delhi killed 13 people. The government has been heavily criticised for its failure to arrest the masterminds behind previous bombings.

India has been in a state of alert since Mohammed Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri, was hanged in a New Delhi jail nearly two weeks ago. Guru had been convicted of involvement in a 2001 attack on India’s Parliament that killed 14 people, including five gunmen.

Elsewhere, a car bombing near Syria’s ruling party headquarters in Damascus has killed 53 people, according to state media, while mortar rounds exploded near the army’s central command. It marks the third straight day of attacks on the heart of President Bashar Assad’s seat of power.

In the southern town of Daraa, where Syria’s uprising began nearly two years ago, British-based activists said 18 people were killed in an air strike including eight rebel fighters, three medics, one woman and one young girl.

The day’s deadliest attack struck a main street on the edge of central Mazraa neighbourhood, near the headquarters of Mr Assad’s Baath party and the Russian Embassy.

Witnesses said a car exploded at a security checkpoint between the Russian Embassy and the central headquarters of Assad’s ruling party. Russia and China have both stood by the Assad regime and blocked Western attempts to get him to quit power.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said his message to Mr Assad is that “it is time to go.”

He said senseless killing must be brought to an end through a credible political process.