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3 die in Damascus bus explosion

December 4th, 2009 · 7 Comments · Incidents

3 people, including a 13 year old boy, have died after a bus exploded in southern Damascus.


The tragedy is said to have happened at a petrol station near Saida Zeinab, the Shia shrine in the southern suburbs. At first, it seemed almost certain it was a terrorist attack, with journalists gleefully pointing out that there was a bus bomb in the same area just one year ago. Although the journalists in London and Washington got the location very wrong last time, as they probably did this time (in 2008, the attack was closer to the Christian shrines of Bab Touma than the Shia shrine of Saida Zeinab).

As the day progressed, it became clear that this was a tragic accident, rather than a deliberate attack. First, pictures emerged showing the bus largely intact, then the death toll was lowered from an estimated 14, to 6 and then to 3. And finally Interior Minister Said Sammour confirmed that the explosion was caused by a tyre, which blew up as it was being pumped. On previous occasions, Syrian officials have been quick to point the finger at terrorists because it brings Syria on to the right side of the war on terror.

Chris Phillips at the Guardian jumped the gun embarrassingly, jumping on the terrorism bandwagon before the facts were known. In an incredibly offensive, and insensitive statement, he suggests: “There is an element of karma here, given that the Syrian government previously facilitated many such groups in their passage to fight the insurgency in Iraq.”

Sounding very much like Pat Robertson or a wacky Saudi cleric who wags his finger and says ‘they deserve it’ when disaster strikes, Phillips hasn’t even got his facts straight. No-one, except the most ardent neo-con, suggests that Syria has “facilitated” the passage of militants into Iraq. At worst, Syria is accused of not securing its border well enough.

Anyway, I’d prefer to focus on the 3 innocent lives lost this morning at 9.30am. The Iranian bus driver (who was taking Iranian pilgrims to Saida Zeinab) plus 2 petrol station workers (one of them was aged 13) died in horrific fashion as they did their jobs.

Don’t forget them as others try to play politics with this tragic accident.

(Image: AP)


7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 aron // Dec 4, 2009 at 1.45 am

    pretty badass tyre, though…

  • 2 Yazan // Dec 4, 2009 at 3.38 am

    And you really buy into a tyre blowing and burning half the bus? 😉

  • 3 Ali // Dec 4, 2009 at 4.04 am

    Hold on to your story on Tire blow up, it is going to hunt you in the future, because you are going to send your credibility as local news wire to the drain. You need to have some insiders and some eye witnesses to practice reporting.

  • 4 Egyptian Chronicles: It Is Just An Accident This Times // Dec 4, 2009 at 5.25 am

    […] about this sorrowful incident at Syria News wire. Technorati Tags: Syria,Damascus,Politics,Iran,News,Sayada […]

  • 5 Stephen Starr // Dec 4, 2009 at 2.25 pm

    Hi Sasa,

    You’ve hit the nail on the head with this one. It’s remarkable that such coverage has surrounded the “explosion” and it appears the Guardian has really let itself down.

    A photographer friend for Cham Press was at the site yesterday afternoon and said were this to be a terrorist attack then there’s not much to be afraid of.

    For sure it was not caused by a type blowing, perhaps, and this is just thinking out loud, the type exploded triggering a gas cannister in the bus’ undercarraige to explode.

    More likely is that someone was filling the bus with fuel and didn’t put out his cigarette, something I see daily in Syria.

    It is disappointing to see international media outlets overreact like this, immediately linking a simple mishap to the entire country’s security concerns.

    Shame on the Guardian.

  • 6 Sasa // Dec 4, 2009 at 2.32 pm

    Yazan and Stephen – Exactly! That was my first thought – that someone was smoking in the petrol station. It scares me every time I see it.

    It does seem odd that a tyre could cause so much damage though.

  • 7 Steven // Dec 6, 2009 at 3.57 pm

    I have been a fan of this site ever since i moved to Syria two years ago. However, i must object to your reporting on this blast which has not met your usual impartial standards.

    Speaking to people around Damascus on the day of the blast there was genuine confusion and fear that this could have been a bomb like the one last year. You attack the Guardian article quite savagely, which appears totally unjust given that a) despite your selective quoting, it does float its ideas as ‘possibles’ rather than ‘certains’ and b) this British newspaper, and Phillips amongst a few others, is one of the few western outlets to be sympathetic to Syria in its coverage.

    You seem to have suddenly adopted a ‘the regime is always right’ approach around this explosion – which has been, thankfully, absent from your other work. I hope you soon revert to your more balanced style.

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