DAMASCUS: A suicide bomber on Friday killed 26 people and wounded dozens in the Syrian capital with the government vowing an "iron fist" response.
The bomber blew himself up near a school in in the historic Midan quarter, Interior Minister Lieutenant General Mohammad al-Shaar was quoted as saying by the SANA news agency. Another 17 civilians were shot dead in the now daily unrest, activists said.
Authorities found the complete and body parts from 26 people while 63 others were wounded in the second blast in two weeks in the heart of Damascus, the minister added.
The interior ministry branded the bombing "a new terrorist escalation" and said more than 10 kilos (22 pounds) of explosives was used.
"We will strike with an iron fist all those who undermine the security of the nation," the ministry said in a statement.
Syrian opposition factions blamed President Bashar al-Assad's government for the bombing and called on Arab and Western forces to end the bloodshed.