Video footage indicated that a police bus had borne the brunt of the blast. Reduced to a shell, its seats were soaked in blood and covered in shards of glass.

The television station claimed that the majority of the casualties were civilians, saying that the attack took place “in a heavily populated working-class neighbourhood near a school”. More than 46 people were also wounded in the attack, it added.

There was no independent confirmation of the number of fatalities. The regime was quick to blame the attack on “terrorists”, which it says have been at the forefront of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad that erupted last March…

Friday’s attack, like the one before it, coincided with mass protests called to demand Mr Assad’s overthrow and opposition officials claimed the blast was planned by the government to distract attention from the demonstrations.