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Syrian prime minister ‘survives car bomb attack’ in Damascus

Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi escaped an assassination bid on Monday, surviving a blast that targeted his convoy in Damascus

Source : Al Arabiya with AFP / 29 Apr 2013

Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi escaped an assassination bid on Monday, surviving a blast that targeted his convoy in Damascus, Syrian state television reported.

State television had earlier reported that a "terrorist explosion" in the capital's Mezze district had caused casualties.

"The terrorist explosion in Mazzeh was an attempt to target the prime minister's convoy and Dr. Wael al-Halqi was unharmed," state television reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog reported that a car bomb targeted Halqi's convoy as it passed through the Mazzeh district of Damascus, killing one of his bodyguards.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP news agency Halqi's driver and a second bodyguard were also seriously wounded in the explosion.

In August 2012, Halqi, a former health minister, was appointed to replace Riad Hijab, whose defection to the opposition was announced earlier.

Halqi, born in 1964, is from the southern province of Deraa where the uprising against Assad erupted. He replaced caretaker premier Omar Ghalawanji who was appointed hours after Hijab's defection.

State television al-Ikhbariya broadcast footage of Halqi attending a government meeting and giving a statement afterwards, but it was unclear whether the footage was from before or after the attack.

A news bulletin quoting Halqi saying "these types of attacks are nothing but proof of the discouragement and despair of the terrorist groups as a result of the actions of the Syrian army."

In July 2012, a suicide bomb attack killed Syria's defense minister and deputy defense minister and left the country's interior minister seriously wounded.

The capital has also been targeted in several major bombings, including an explosion on April 9 in the center of the city which killed at least 15 people.

The attack against Halqi came as U.S. Republican lawmakers piled pressure on the administration to take action over Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons.

 

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