Bid to assassinate Syrian PM fails,6 killed in blast

PM unhurt,says attack a sign of bankruptcy,failure of terrorists

Written by Reuters | Beirut | Published: April 30, 2013 1:07:50 am

Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halki survived a bomb attack on his convoy in Damascus on Monday,state media and activists said,as rebels struck in the heart of President Bashar al-Assad’s capital.

Six people were killed in the blast,the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said,the latest in a series of rebel attacks on government targets including a December bombing which wounded Assad’s interior minister.

In comments released by the state news agency SANA but not shown on television,Halki was quoted as condemning the attack as a sign of “bankruptcy and failure of the terrorist groups”,a reference to the rebels battling to overthrow Assad.

The blast shook the Mezze district soon after 9 am (0600 GMT). The Observatory said one man accompanying Halki and five passers-by were killed.

State television showed firemen hosing down the charred and mangled remains of a car. Close by was a large white bus,its windows blown out and its seats gutted by fire. Glass and debris were scattered across several lanes of a main road.

“The terrorist explosion in al-Mezze was an attempt to target the convoy of the Prime Minister. Doctor Wael al-Halki is well and not hurt at all,” state television said. It later broadcast footage of Halki,who appeared composed and unruffled,chairing what it said was an economic committee.

Halki wields little power but the attack highlighted the rebels’ growing ability to target symbols of Assad’s authority in a civil war which has cost more than 70,000 lives,according to the United Nations.

Assad picked Halki in August to replace Riyadh Hijab,who defected and escaped to neighbouring Jordan just weeks after a Damascus bombing which killed four of the president’s top security advisers.

Mezze is part of a shrinking “Square of Security” in central Damascus,where many government and military institutions are based and where senior Syrian officials live.

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