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Rebels claim Damascus bomb attack near UN hotel

Published on Aug 15, 2012 6:12 PM
A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency shows smoke billowing from the scene of a bomb explosion in central Damascus near the hotel used by the United Nations observer mission in Syria on Aug15, 2012. Syrian TV said the blast, in the Abu Remaneh district near a military depot and the trade union headquarters, was caused by a bomb planted on a fuel truck. -- PHOTO: AFP

DAMASCUS (AFP) - A massive bomb blast rocked the heart of Damascus on Wednesday, setting off a fireball near the hotel used by the United Nations (UN) observer mission in Syria in an attack claimed by the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The blast, which tore a huge hole out of a petrol tanker near the Dama Rose hotel, wounded at least five people, a military officer at the scene said, while Syria's deputy foreign minister said UN staff were unscathed.

"The FSA operation targeted a military command office with explosives designed to go off at a meeting of army officers and members of the shabiha (pro-government militia) which decides on daily operations in Damascus," said Mr Maher Nuwaimi, head of the FSA coordination command in Syria.

Damascus has been hit by several bomb blasts, including an attack last month at the national security headquarters that killed four of President Bashar al-Assad's top security chiefs and was also claimed by the FSA.

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