Syria security officials 'sacked' after school bombing

Syrians inspect the scene of a car bomb explosion outside the Akrameh al-Makhzumi school in Homs, on October 1, 2014 (AFP Photo/) (SANA/AFP/File)

Beirut (AFP) - Two senior security officials in the Syrian city of Homs have been fired after a bombing that killed dozens of schoolchildren and stirred rare public protests in a loyalist area, a monitor said Tuesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the head of the local military security branch and the chief of the city's security committee had been dismissed from their posts.

The Britain-based monitoring group said the firings came after residents took part in angry demonstrations over the deadly October 1 attack at a school that killed 48 children, most of them under the age of 12, and four adults.

A lone assailant planted a bomb at one location of the school and then blew himself up at another.

The attack in the Akrameh neighbourhood of the city prompted rare public protests, with residents even calling for the resignation of Homs governor Talal Barazi, the Observatory said.

On Facebook, angry residents created pages including one calling for parents to stop sending their children to school until Barazi resigned.

Video of a funeral for some of the children showed the event turning into an angry demonstration, with mourners chanting: "The people want the fall of the governor."

Others expressed public anger at security officials, calling for them to be held to account for the deaths of the children.

Speaking to AFP, Barazi said security in the city had been stepped up after the devastating attack, but denied that anyone had been fired.

He said some security officials had been "transferred," adding that "the decision to transfer them was taken before the incident but its implementation coincided with it."

"The transition of security officials in the province has no relation to the explosion that happened in Akrameh," he said.

Barazi said security had been increased at schools in Homs city, with checkpoints and roadblocks set up near the facilities.

He said the measures had already yielded results, with security officials on Monday detaining a man suspected of planting an explosive device in a rubbish bin.

Akrameh is home mostly to Alawites, members of the same offshoot of Shiite Islam to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs, and it has been targeted in bomb attacks before.

Homs was once dubbed "the capital of the revolution" against Assad, but most of the city, except the battered Waar district, has been recaptured by the regime.

More than 180,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the anti-regime revolt in Syria in March 2011.