Syrian President Bashar Assad made a rare public appearance at a Damascus power station on Wednesday, while two bombs exploded near the city centre, killing one and wounding over two dozen people, Syria's state news agency reported.
Footage of the visit broadcast on state television showed Assad chatting casually with a group of employees, two days after his prime minister narrowly escaped assassination by an explosion and a day after another major bombing in the capital took the lives of at least 14.
SANA said a 10-year-old boy was killed and 28 people wounded, some seriously, in Wednesday's attack, when bombs went off in Khaled Bin Walid street and the nearby Bab Mesalla square. It said the bombs were planted by “terrorists,” a term the government uses to describe rebels fighting to topple the Syrian leader.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Bab Mesalla explosion was near a police station and came from rocket fire. It said the blast left casualties but did not have figures on dead or wounded. It also said that several people, including children, were wounded in the explosion in Khaled Bin Walid street.
Police had sealed off Bab Mesalla, which has restaurants, shops and a main public transportation station linking Damascus with the southern provinces of Daraa and Sweida, the Observatory added.
In the capital's western neighbourhood of Mazzeh, two people were killed when a bomb attached to a bicycle went off, SANA said. On Monday, a bomb exploded as Prime Minister Wael Halqi's convoy drove by in the same neighborhood.
Assad's visit to the Umayyad Electrical Station in the Tishrin Park district came on International Workers Day, or May Day. State TV showed the Syrian leader, confident and wearing a dark business suit, addressing the station's staff and later shaking their hands. Similar still images also appeared on a page used by the Syrian presidency on the popular social network Facebook.
“They want to scare us, we will not be scared ... They want us to live underground, we will not live underground,” Assad told a group of workers who had gathered around him. “We hope that by this time next year we will have overcome the crisis in our country,” he said.
Tuesday's blast was the second in the heart of the capital in two days. Rebels seeking to topple Assad have been trying to create a supply line from Jordan, so that arms bought by Saudi Arabia and Qatar can be shipped in for assaults on the city they hope to capture.