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Nine killed in bomb blast

Published:Sunday | May 20, 2012 | 12:00 AM

BEIRUT (AP):A suicide vehicle bomb tore through the parking lot of a military compound in an eastern Syrian city yesterday killing nine people in the latest in a series of blasts in recent months targeting security installations, the country's state media reported.

State TV showed footage of damaged buildings, smouldering cars, and trucks turned upside down. Debris filled a street that was stained with blood.

Attacks such as the blast in Deir al-Zour, a former transit hub for militants heading to fight United States forces in nearby Iraq, have raised fears that al-Qaida-linked jihads, possibly including Iraqis, have made strong inroads into Syria's rebel movement.

The report said the vehicle was rigged with 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of explosives and did heavy damage to buildings up to 100 metres away. It added that the explosion left a crater five metres wide and 21/2 metres deep.

The state-run news agency SANA said the blast hit the parking lot of a military residential compound, while an opposition group, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported that the bomb went off close to the city branches of the Military Intelligence Directorate and Air Force Intelligence.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

A group calling itself the Al-Nusra Front has claimed some previous attacks through statements posted on militant websites.

Little is known about the group, although Western intelligence officials say it could be a front for a branch of al-Qaida militants from Iraq operating in Syria.

al-qaida suspected

The most recent bombing targeted an intelligence building in Damascus on May 10. It struck during morning rush hour and the high death toll - some 55 people - made it the deadliest such attack since the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began in March of last year.

Last Thursday, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he believes that "alarmingly and surprisingly", al-Qaida must have been behind the May 10 attack in the Syrian capital.

"The recent terrorist attacks in Damascus suggest that these attacks were carefully orchestrated," he said. "Having seen the scale and sophistication of these terrorist attacks, one might think that this terrorist attack was done by a certain group with organisation and clear intent."