(DAMASCUS, Syria) — At least 15 students were killed in Syria Thursday by mortar shells targeting Damascus University.
As usual, finger-pointing immediately followed. The government of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad alleged that rebels were behind the attack while opposition forces accused al-Assad of conducting assaults on his own people to deflect blame on his enemies.
Regardless of who was responsible, the mortar strike was directed at a part of the capital that has remained largely immune to the violence of the two-year conflict that has only increased in intensity since March 2011.
The attack was directed against an outdoor cafe on campus located close to the civil engineering faculty building where an exam was taking place.
In something of a mixed blessing, the casualty toll would have likely been much higher if not for the fact that the usually crowded area of Damascus University was somewhat empty because of growing fears of just this sort of violence occurring.
Two months ago, Aleppo University in northwestern Syria came under siege by either war planes or planted bombs, killing more than 80 people. Both sides in the conflict blamed the other for the carnage.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN
Lorenzo D'Agostino and Hilary Clarke, CNN
Camille Verdier, Steve Visser and Margot Haddad, CNN