Two weeks into a cease-fire agreement, there still was no peace Friday in Syria: Security agents in Damascus collected the remains of 10 people killed in a suicide bombing. Activists reported troops firing on protesters. Video showed a crowd carrying a slain boy to U.N. observers as proof of regime violence.
The head of the United Nations said Syrian President Bashar Assad's continued crackdown on protests has reached an "intolerable stage," and that the U.N. will try to speed up the deployment of up to 300 monitors to Syria. Only 15 are there now. "The government of Syria must live up to its promises to the world," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets across Syria for weekly anti-regime marches after Muslim noon prayers Friday. Amateur video from the central city of Homs, where the presence of U.N. observers helped halt weeks of artillery attacks, showed rows of men lining up in a main street, holding each other by the shoulders as they sang and danced.
Troops have routinely opened fire on protests since the uprising against Assad began 13 months ago, but there appeared to be fewer violent incidents Friday than in previous weeks. Still, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said five protesters were killed by fire from the security forces, including a 10-year-old boy.
A plan brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan proposed an April 12 cease-fire, to be followed by talks between the regime and the opposition. Since that date, the U.N. has said the regime has broken many of its truce promises. Rebel fighters have also kept up shooting and bombing attacks on Syrian security forces.
With the U.S. and France in the lead, Western powers have threatened tougher U.N. Security Council measures if Assad keeps breaking his promises, although Syria's allies Russia and China could use their veto powers in the council to shield him.
The suicide bomber in Damascus detonated an explosives belt Friday near members of the security forces, killing at least nine people and wounding 26, the state-run news agency SANA reported. The remains of two other people also were found, one believed to be the bomber, according to Health Minister Nader al-Halqi. The minister said seven police were among the dead.
The blast went off near a mosque in the downtown Midan neighborhood, an area of opposition sympathizers. The government said it would use an iron fist against those "who might intimidate residents and spread anarchy in the country," SANA reported.
Three smaller explosions elsewhere in the capital killed one person.
The regime blamed Friday's attack on unspecified "terrorists" -- the term it uses to describe opposition forces that it says are carrying out a foreign conspiracy. Opposition activists deny any role, saying such blasts are carried out by government forces and meant to tarnish Assad's opponents.