The death toll in a suicide bombing in Damascus rose to 26 people late Friday night, the Syrian interior minister said, vowing an "iron fist" response to the carnage in the heart of the capital after similar attacks two weeks ago.

The number of people wounded stood at 63.

Some in the opposition said the government itself had staged the attack to try to show that it was fighting blind violence rather than a pro-democracy movement.

State television showed body parts, bloodstains and broken glass from the explosion. Several riot police shields were shown near a wrecked bus that was among several damaged vehicles.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger