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Triple suicide attack near Damascus police HQ: ministry

Sur le site d'un double attentat-suicide visant un commissariat de police dans le quartier de Midane à Damas, le 2 octobre 2017
LOUAI BESHARA (AFP)
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack

Three suicide bombers blew themselves up near the main police headquarters building in Syria's capital Damascus on Wednesday, killing at least two people, the interior ministry said.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released via the Telegram messaging app.

The attack is the second time in a month that suicide attackers have targeted the capital, which has often been insulated from the worst of the violence in the war-torn country.

Two of the suicide bombers detonated their explosives in front of the police HQ on Khaled Bin al-Walid street in central Damascus, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by state media.

"The terrorist suicide attackers tried to storm the police command headquarters... The guards opened fire on them, forcing them to blow themselves up before they entered the building and achieved their goals," it added.

Police surrounded a third attacker behind the building who also blew himself up, the statement said.

The interior ministry said two people had been killed and six wounded in the attack, among them two children.

Damascus police chief Mohammed Khairu Ismail told reporters at the scene of the attack that one of the dead was a policeman who tried to stop the bombers.

"One of our forces grabbed one of the suicide bombers and prevented him from entering the building, so he blew himself up, killing the sergeant," Ismail said.

It was the second time this month that suicide attackers have targeted police in the capital, after at least 17 people were killed in an October 2 attack on a police station in the southern district of Midan.

City largely spared

That attack was claimed by the Islamic State group, which said three of its fighters armed with guns, grenades and explosives had targeted the station.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday's attack in the central neighborhood of Qanawat.

More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the country's conflict began in March 2011, with anti-government protests.

Damascus has been shaken by several bomb attacks, despite being largely spared from the worst of the violence in the six-year war.

In this month's incident at Midan, one attacker was able to reach the first floor of the police station before blowing himself up.

The Midan police station itself had previously been targeted in December 2016, when a seven-year-old girl entered the building wearing an explosive belt that was remotely detonated.

Rebel groups have been gradually expelled from territory in the capital they once held, though they maintain a presence in a handful of positions, including the Jobar neighborhood.

They also hold territory in the Eastern Ghouta region outside the capital, and have regularly launched rockets into the city.

A deal worked out between regime allies Russia and Iran with rebel backer Turkey earlier this year has implemented so-called "de-escalation zones" in several parts of the country, including Eastern Ghouta, bringing a measure of relative calm.

But the fight against IS is continuing, with government troops and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters, leading separate offensives against the jihadists in the north and east Syria.

(AFP)

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