Deadly Suicide Bombing at Damascus Police Club

BEIRUT (Reuters) -
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, soldiers and plainclothes policemen gather at the scene of an explosion that killed tens of people and wounded others in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Tuesday Feb. 9, 2016. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, that caused wide material damage to buildings and cars in the area. IS vowed to carry out more attacks in the future. (SANA via AP)
In this photo, soldiers and plainclothes policemen gather at the scene of an explosion that killed dozens of people and wounded others in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Tuesday. (SANA Syrian Arab News Agency via AP)

A suicide car bomber blew himself up near a police officers’ club in a residential district of Damascus on Tuesday, killing several people, Syria’s interior ministry said, and Islamic State (IS) terrorists claimed responsibility.

The ministry said that a number of people were also wounded in the blast, which took place in Masaken Barza, a middle class district where several major government buildings are located.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks violence in Syria’s civil war, reported that eight police officers were killed in the blast and at least 20 wounded after a vehicle was detonated in a parking lot of the club.

In a statement carried by social media, IS named the bomber as Abu Abdul Rahman al Shami and said he had turned his enemies’ “tranquility into horror” to avenge what it called the suffering of their fellow Sunni Muslims.

IS put the death toll at 20 with at least 40 injuries.

An interior ministry statement said security forces prevented the suicide bomber from entering the heavily-patrolled complex and that the blast occurred at its gates.

The last major blast in the Syrian capital occurred on Jan. 31 in a Damascus district where Syria’s foremost Shiite site is located. That blast killed over 70 people including at least 25 Shiiite militiamen, and was also claimed by IS.

Although suicide bombings in the heart of the Syrian capital have generally subsided over the past two years, terrorists frequently fire mortars into Damascus from rebel-held eastern suburbs.