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Report: Suicide bombers strike central Damascus square, killing at least 14

At least 14 people, mostly policemen, were killed and dozens injured when two suicide bombers attacked a central Damascus square. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Two suicide bombers hit a central Damascus square Tuesday, killing at least 14 people, activists and the state media reported. Activists said one of the explosions took place inside a police station and that many of the dead were policemen.

Syrian state TV quoted a security official as saying 14 people died in explosions caused by two "terrorist" suicide bombers near a police station in the bustling Marjeh Square in the heart of the capital. The official said another 31 were wounded.

The state-run Ikhbariya TV station showed footage of broken shop facades and mangled cars in the central square as ambulance workers were seen carrying the wounded on stretchers.

Marjeh Square has been the scene of previous attacks this year.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists on the ground in Syria, said 15 were killed in the explosions, one of which was caused by a man blowing himself up inside the police station in Marjeh Square. The group said the other explosion occurred outside the police station. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the two accounts.


A photo from official Syrian news agency SANA shows damage from one of two suicide bombings Tuesday.

Suicide attacks and car bombs have become common in Damascus. Tuesday's twin explosions in the capital are the first since government troops, backed by fighters from Lebanon's Shiite group Hezbollah, captured Qusair, a strategic town in the central province of Homs, the linchpin linking Damascus with the regime strongholds on the Mediterranean coast.

Following the capture of Qusair, Syrian state-run media and the Hezbollah-owned Al-Manar TV have said the regime is preparing an offensive reportedly named Operation Northern Storm to recapture Aleppo. The regime was also believed to be advancing on the central city of Homs.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but car bombs and suicide attacks targeting Damascus and other cities that remain under government control have been claimed in the past by the al Qaeda-affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra — one of scores of rebel factions fighting the forces of President Bashar Assad.

On Saturday, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car in the central city of Homs, tearing through an area largely populated by the regime's Alawite sect and killing seven people.

Syria's conflict started with largely peaceful protests against Assad's regime in March 2011 but eventually turned into a civil war that has killed more than 80,000 people, according to the United Nations.