April 27 - At least nine people are killed and 20 injured in an explosion in Damascus as U.N. monitors carry out field visits in the troubled country. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) A suicide bomber kills nine people and wounds 20 outside a central Damascus mosque, in another blow to a peace plan that the United Nations says President Bashar al-Assad has failed to honour. The blast ripped through worshippers at the Zain al-Abideen mosque, which was under heavy security for Friday prayers, often a launchpad for anti-Assad protests, opposition activists said. State media said security officials were among the wounded. A resident who spoke to security officials at the scene said a man had approached soldiers near the mosque and detonated a bomb belt when challenged. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Earlier, a loud blast was heard in the capital's al Sinaa district near a garage used by government buses and pro-Assad militiamen tasked with preventing demonstrations. Shopkeepers said the first blast hit a black Mercedes, which caught fire. The driver was wounded but no one else was hurt. Central Damascus has been spared much of the violence, although Friday's blasts occurred less than a week after a car bomb near an Iranian cultural centre in the capital. A handful of U.N. ceasefire monitors are already on the ground in Syria and U.N. officials said the full advance team of 30 out of a planned 300-strong presence would be there by Monday.