DAMASCUS, March 21 (Xinhua) -- A prominent Syrian Islamic scholar was killed along with 30 others, when a suicide bomber detonated himself inside a mosque in the capital Damascus Thursday evening, local media reported.
Mohammad Saed Ramadan al-Bouti, 84, was delivering a lecture at al-Eman Mosque when the blast occurred.
Al-Bouti was known for his anti-terrorism stances and criticism of the radical rebels.
Reports say he was the target of the explosion.
Syria's TV aired footage from inside the mosque, showing blood- stricken bodies of worshipers scattered on the carpets that have turned red.
Medical teams were seen franticly moving the bodies on stretchers and examining others for any sign of life.
The brazen attack is the first of its kind taking place inside a mosque in the heart of Damascus, which has been spared largely the spiraling violence elsewhere in the country.
Al-Bouti's last lecture was delivered last week when he called on Syria's grand mufti to declare the general mobilization to back the Syrian troops in its battles against "mercenaries."
"We are invaded in every inch of our land, in our bread, in our lives, women, children sanctities and honor,'' he said.
"We are today in front of a legitimate duty ... which is the need of mobilization to protect the values, the homeland and the holy sites, and there is no difference, in this case, between the army and the rest of this nation," he said.
Al-Bouti was born in 1929 in the village of Ayn Dewar in northern Syria.
He was a retired dean and a professor at the College of Islamic Law at Damascus University. He preaches very often and is highly respected by many of the leading scholars in the Muslim world.