Explosions kill 83 at Syrian university
Two explosions tore through one of Syria's biggest universities on the first day of student exams on Tuesday, killing 83 people and wounding dozens, a monitoring group said.
Bloodshed has disrupted civilian life across Syria since a violent government crackdown in early 2011 on peaceful demonstrations for democratic reform turned the unrest into an armed insurgency bent on overthrowing President Bashar al-Assad.
More than 50 countries asked the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to refer the crisis to the International Criminal Court, which prosecutes people for genocide and war crimes. But Russia - Assad's long-standing ally and arms supplier - blocked the initiative, calling it "ill-timed and counterproductive."
Each side in the 22-month-old conflict blamed the other for Tuesday's blasts at the University of Aleppo, located in a government-held area of Syria's most populous city.
Some activists in Aleppo said a government attack caused the explosions, while state television accused "terrorists" - a term they often use to describe the rebels - of firing two rockets at the school. A rebel fighter said the blasts appeared to have been caused by "ground-to-ground" missiles.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said 83 people were killed and dozens wounded, but it could not identify the source of the blasts.
"Dozens are in critical condition," the Observatory said in a statement, citing doctors and students.
State television showed a body lying on the street and several cars burning. One of the university buildings was damaged.
Video footage showed students carrying books out of the university after one of the explosions, walking quickly away from rising smoke. The camera then shakes to the sound of another explosion and people begin to run.
"A cowardly terrorist act targeted the students of Aleppo University as they sat for their mid-term examinations," Syria's United Nations ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, told the UN Security Council in New York. He said 82 students had died and 162 more were wounded.