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Syria government vows 'iron fist' revenge after bomb kills 26

Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET

DAMASCUS - A bomb that ripped through a police bus in Syria's capital killed 26 and wounded 63, the country's interior minister said, vowing an "iron fist" response to the carnage.

Interior Minister Ibrahim al-Shaar, quoted by state television, said 26 people had been killed in the blast in the Maidan district of Damascus, including 15 who could not be identified because their bodies had been shredded in the blast.

Several people have been killed in a bombing in Syria's capital. Msnbc.com's Dara Brown reports.

"We will strike back with an iron fist at anyone tempted to tamper with the security of the country or its citizens," he said.


He said that about 63 people had been wounded.

Updated at 6:59 a.m. ET

DAMASCUS -- An explosion ripped through a police bus in the center of Syria's capital Friday, killing at least 10 people in an attack authorities blamed on a suicide bomber, a Syrian official and state-run TV said.

However, Reuters reported that local news station Addounia put the death toll at 25. Addounia said 46 others were wounded. 

Although the nearly 10-month-old uprising in Syria has convulsed many parts of the country, Damascus has been relatively quiet under the tight control of ruthless security agencies loyal to President Bashar Assad.

The government has long contended that the turmoil in Syria this year is not an uprising but the work of terrorists and foreign-backed armed gangs.

The opposition has questioned those allegations. It has hinted that the regime itself could have been behind a Dec. 23 bombing targeting the country's intelligence agencies. At least 44 people were killed and 166 others were injured in that attack.

Published at 5:47 a.m. ET: A suicide bomber killed and wounded dozens of people in central Damascus, Syrian state TV said Friday.

Footage broadcast by Syria Television showed the shattered windows of what appeared to be a police bus.

State TV said the explosion went off at an intersection in the neighborhood of Midan, while scores of people were in the area. It said most of the casualties were civilians.

Syria has banned most foreign journalists from the country and prevented independent reporting.

The explosion comes two weeks after two blasts in Damascus targeting security buildings killed 44 people.

A Syrian official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to talk publicly to the media, said the target of the attack appeared to be a bus carrying police officer.

"This is a criminal terrorist act," a man shouted in footage aired on Syria TV.

For months, President Bashar Assad has used tanks and troops to try to crush street protests inspired by other Arab uprisings.

According to the U.N., more than 5,000 people have been killed during the uprising against the Assad regime.

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The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.