Syrian car bombs kill 17

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iol news pic SYR30_SYRIA-CRISIS-_0219_11 REUTERS A man walks amid rubble of damaged buildings in the al-Myassar neighbourhood of Aleppo. REUTERS/Jalal Al-Mamo

Damascus - Car bombs in government-held districts of central Syria killed at least 17 people and wounded many others Thursday, state-media and a government official reported.

A government official in Homs province said 13 civilians were killed in a car bomb explosion at a busy roundabout in a residential district known as the Armenian quarters in the city of Homs. The official said more than 30 others were wounded in the explosion that targeted the area, mostly inhabited by residents from the Alawite and Christian minority sects.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give official statements.

Syrian TV showed footage of the blast, including cars on fires, two bodies covered with sheets and fire engines struggling to extinguish a huge fire in the area.

Earlier, the state-run news agency SANA said an explosives-laden car was detonated remotely in an area on the southern edge of Hama, killing at least four people and wounding 22.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which documents the fighting in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said the blast went off near a security headquarters in Hama, killing five people and wounding more than 20.

The reports did not say who was behind the blasts and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Extremist groups, particularly those linked to al-Qaida, frequently have targeted government institutions and Syrian troops with car bombs and suicide attacks.

Homs is Syria's third-largest city and has seen some of the heaviest fighting in the 3-year-old conflict.


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