Damascus bombing - Reuters - January 6 2012
People gather around damaged cars at the site of an explosion in the Maidan district of Damascus January 6, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. Photo by Reuters
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Syria's interior ministry said it would respond "with an iron fist" to what it called "terrorist escalation" after a suicide bomb attack on Friday, the third such attack in the capital Damascus in two weeks, state television said.

"We will strike back with an iron fist at anyone who is tempted to play with the security of the country or its citizens," Syria state television quoted Interior Minister Ibrahim al-Shaar as saying.

Shaar also said the death toll from the bombing in Damascus killed 26 people, one higher than an earlier toll. Fifteen bodies could not be identified after they were "torn to pieces in the blast", he said.

The ministry estimated that 63 people had been injured.

The explosion in the central Maidan district of Damascus, targeted a police bus in central Damascus, according to Syrian state television. 

Initial reports claimed a suicide bomber detonated himself in the city's Maidan quarter near the Syrian intelligence headquarters, with Syria's official news agency SANA reporting that 15 people were killed in the attack and another 46 wounded.

The report came only two weeks after two booby-trapped cars blew up at Syrian security sites in Damascus, with 44 killed and dozens wounded.