Bomb explodes near police HQ in day of Syrian chaos

A car bomb exploded near the police headquarters in central Damascus yesterday, killing at least one person and damaging buildings, Syria’s state-run news agency said.

The blast is the latest in a series of bombings and suicide attacks targeting security personnel and government institutions as Syria plunges deeper into chaos.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s military fired an artillery round into Syria in immediate retaliation after a shell fired from Syria landed in the Turkish border town of Akcakale, broadcasters said, the second such incident in five days.

Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, warned Syria that Turkey would not shy away from war if provoked, but a series of mortar bombs fired from Syria have hit Turkey since those threats.

There were no casualties when the latest Syrian shell hit land near a plant belonging to the Turkish Grain Board, several hundred metres from the centre of Akcakale, where five civilians were killed on Wednesday in previous Syrian shelling.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the shells fired from Turkey landed near the Syrian town of Tel Abyad.

Akcakale had been quiet since Turkey’s retaliation on Wednesday and Thursday for the initial shelling, but Syrian government forces began shelling areas around Tel Abyad yesterday morning, Dogan news agency reported.

Before the latest strike into Turkey, the Syrian military had fired seven artillery shells yesterday into an area close to the Syrian customs building, around 300m from the border and under the control of rebel forces, Dogan said.

People were reportedly killed in those strikes and two wounded Syrians were carried through the border fencing to a hospital in Akcakale, Dogan said.

Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, said Syria president Bashar al-Assad should be replaced by vice-president Faruq al-Shara, whom he said “is a man of reason”.

In Aleppo, warplanes flew over the rebel-held Bab al-Hadid and Shaar neighbourhoods, where witnesses said fierce fighting had erupted.

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