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Syria: At least 6 people killed and many injured in bomb blast near renowned Shia shrine in Damascus during Islamic holy month Muharram

The deadly blast came ahead of the annual commemoration of Ashura, when Shia Muslims remember the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, in the seventh-century battle of Karbala.

An explosion in a district to the south of Damascus in Syria resulted in at least six fatalities and 46 injuries on 27 July. A device concealed in a motorbike that was close to a taxicab was remotely detonated on al-Sudan Street in the neighbourhood of al-Sayeda Zainab mausoleum.

Sayeda Zeinab was the granddaughter of Prophet Mohammed and the daughter of Imam Ali, a founding figure of Shia Islam. It is the country’s most visited Shia shrine also known as the Shiite pilgrimage site.

The deadly blast came ahead of the annual commemoration of Ashura, when Shia Muslims remember the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, in the seventh-century battle of Karbala.

Syrian Health Minister Hassan Al-Ghabbash informed that 20 of the injured were treated on the spot for minor wounds while the others were transferred to hospitals. He further mentioned that 11 ambulances arrived at the scene shortly after the blast.

Shia Muslims, primarily from Iran, frequently travel to the predominately Shia area in Syria to make pilgrimages to revered Shia shrines. There is also a presence of the Hezbollah organisation from Lebanon in the region. The explosive device reportedly detonated close to a military station operated by rebels with support from Iran, according to the war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

A source at the nearby Al-Sadr hospital stated that 10 wounded individuals had been transported there following a car bombing close to the site. State television disclosed that the explosion was caused by a bomb placed in a taxi by unidentified people.

A 39-year-old civil servant Ibrahim said, “We heard a huge blast and people began to run. Then ambulances arrived and security forces cordoned off the area. The explosion took place near a security building around 600 metres (yards) from the mausoleum of Sayeda Zeinab.”

For the 10-day Ashura celebration, which is the most significant in Shia Islam, the authorities have strengthened security measures surrounding the mausoleum. However, it was the second attack this week at the shrine. A booby-trapped motorcycle blast wounded two people on 25 July. It is high season for the shrine as Shia Muslims flock there to mark the mourning period of Ashura.

Sunni Muslim terrorists of the Islamic State routinely attack Shia shrines, not just in the country but also in adjacent Iraq. Multiple devastating explosions targeted the Sayeda Zeinab tomb when a civil war broke out in 2011 in Syria. Shia militiamen, largely from Lebanon and Iraq, as well as the army have since been defending the mosque complex.

Attacks have decreased recently despite some security measures being dropped. A double suicide assault that took place in February 2016 about 400 metres from the mausoleum and resulted in the deaths of 134 individuals, including more than 90 civilians, was owned by the IS.

The extremist outfit had also taken responsibility for a triple blast that occurred a few weeks earlier close to the sanctuary and claimed at least 70 victims.

Damascus has remained comparatively calm ever since the Army drove the rebel group out of the Eastern Ghouta area in May 2018. However, intermittent explosions that seem to target random places still occur.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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