Figuring out who planted the bomb in the Syrian capital of Damascus is like trying to solve a mystery when almost everyone has a motive.
Once the bombing was made public Thursday, Syria predictably blamed longtime enemy Israel. Just as predictably, Israel denied it.Syria initially said the bomb killed nine people and wounded 44 but raised the death toll to 11 people Friday, without ex-pla-na-tion.
Israel's denial of responsibility for the bombing rings truer in the West than it does to many Arabs because of longtime Arab-Israeli enmity. But Syria also has many Arab enemies who could try to put a bomb in President Hafez Assad's tightly controlled capital.
Many Lebanese hate Assad for his rule over their country. Syria has a decades-long dispute with Iraq. At home, Islamic radicals oppose Assad's secularism, and majority Sunni Muslims resent being governed by the president's tiny Alawite sect.
That's just for starters; Assad has built up a long list of enemies in the quarter-century he has maneuvered for advantage in the turbulent Middle East.
The flavor of Assad's tight control of Syria can be seen in the way news of the explosion reached most of his countrymen.
A bus blows up in broad daylight Tuesday in downtown Damascus. Nothing is mentioned in government-run newspapers or television until word leaks to the outside world two days later. Suddenly and surrealistically, the official media - for most Syrians, their only source of information - begin showing pictures.
On Friday, a headline in the government Al-Thawra declares the blast "a terroristic and cowardly act carried out by agents of the Mossad."
Outspoken foes of Syria include right-wing Lebanese Christians, who colluded with Israel before its 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
Several explosions in the past two weeks have hit Syrian interests in Christian areas of Lebanon, killing one person and wounding seven. The Syrian-backed Lebanese government rounded up Christian rightists for questioning, and officials hinted through the news media that Israel was to blame.
When Syria made the same charge about the Damascus bombing, Israel called it "a complete lie," and the United States demanded Thursday that Syria show proof.