01:57 - Source: CNN
U.N.: 2016 deadliest on record for Syrian kids

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Courthouse strike was timed to inflict many casualties, Syrian official says

Another suicide attack occurred a couple of miles away, state news agency says

CNN —  

Suicide bombings on Wednesday struck a courthouse and restaurant in the capital of Damascus, killing more than two dozen people and injuring others, Syrian state news said.

The violence unfolded as the Syrian conflict, which started in March 2011, enters its seventh year with no end in sight. An estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed in the civil war, which the United Nations has called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.

On Wednesday, at least 25 people were killed at the Palace of Justice, the main courthouse in the city center of Damascus, Syrian state TV reported, citing police.

A number of people were wounded in the attack, which occurred during busy work hours. The Syrian prosecutor general said the strike was timed to inflict many casualties

Police tried to prevent the attacker from entering, but he was able to force his way in and blow himself up.

Justice Minister Najm al-Ahmad said on state media that the courthouse bomber was wearing a military uniform.

“While security forces were searching people, as we have very restricted security measures at palaces of justice, they found out about this person who was wearing a fake military uniform. He forced himself among a crowd of civilians,” the minister said.

A few miles away, in the al-Rabwa neighborhood, a bomber wearing a suicide vest blew himself up inside a restaurant, killing and wounding a number of people, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported. The precise breakdown of casualties has not been released.

State TV said that security forces were chasing the attacker when he went inside the restaurant.

There were no claims of responsibility for the attacks.

Over the weekend, two bombings targeting buses of Iraqi Shiite pilgrims killed more than 70 people in Damascus. An umbrella group of Syrian Islamist rebels claimed responsibility.

Reduced to rubble

Stephen O’Brien, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, issued a message on the crisis, saying the Syrian people “have watched huge parts of their beloved country reduced to rubble” since the conflict began.

“The toll taken on civilians is inexcusable,” he said.

“A generation of children in Syria have known nothing but brutal conflict and fear during their short lives.”

Millions have been been displaced – fleeing to other countries or elsewhere in the country, he said. They are in “dire need of humanitarian aid,” and millions would still need critical assistance, even if a political agreement “were to succeed tomorrow,” O’Brien said.

Despite efforts to negotiate peace, world powers so far have failed to stop the conflict.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “Peace in Syria is a moral and political imperative both for the Syrian people and for the world – an imperative that cannot wait.”

CNN’s Bharati Naik and Yusuf Basil contributed to this report