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At least 13 killed, more than 70 injured as massive car blast rocks central Damascus

Published time: April 30, 2013 08:47
Edited time: April 30, 2013 12:20

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on April 30, 2013, shows a fire fighter dousing a vehicle following a blast in the Marjeh district of Damascus. (AFP Photo/SANA). Video courtesy al-Ikhbariya TV.

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A massive car explosion which hit central Damascus on Tuesday morning left at least 13 people dead and 70 others injured, according to Syrian state TV.

The incident took place in Marjeh district, a historic part of the capital. The blast went off near the Semiramis Hotel and a building which once housed the country’s Ministry of Interior Affairs. The ministry had earlier been moved to another site.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog is cited by AFP as saying the car bomb was detonated by the former ministry building's back door.

Eyewitnesses say they heard a powerful explosion and then saw thick, black smoke rising from behind a group of buildings. Activists reported gunfire was heard in the area immediately after the explosion.

A resident of Damascus, living 1.7km from the blast site, said the explosion shook the doors of her house.

"It must be huge for me to hear it like that. Casualties must be horrific because it is a super busy square at this time of day," she told Reuters via Skype.

Al-Ikhbariya TV described the blast as a terrorist explosion.

It comes a day after Syrian Prime Minister Wael Halqi survived an attempted bombing assassination in central Damascus. 

Photo from (R. Milhem/Ghossoun)

Photo from (R. Milhem/Ghossoun)

Photo from (R. Milhem/Ghossoun)

Photo from (R. Milhem/Ghossoun)

Photo from (R. Milhem/Ghossoun)