Car Bomb Rocks Syrian City

Posted May 19th, 2012 at 4:35 am (UTC-5)
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A car bomb has rocked Syria's eastern city of Deir el-Zour.

Activists say Saturday's blast occurred near a security agency. State media reports say there are an unspecified number of casualties.

Last week, twin bombings in Damascus killed 55 people. The blasts further strained a fragile cease-fire, between the government and opposition, brokered by international mediator Kofi Annan.

On Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he believed al-Qaida was behind the Damascus bombings. But Friday he told a small group of reporters that the “scale and sophistication” of the attacks showed they were carried out by “by a certain group with organization and clear intent.” He said the U.N. was still looking into it.

Activists say Syrian forces used tear gas and live ammunition on protesters in Aleppo, on Friday, in what opposition groups called one of the biggest protests since the anti-government uprising began 15 months ago.

The demonstrations, in the northern city, erupted a day after Syrian security forces disrupted a student demonstration in Aleppo on Thursday. Video taken from a U.N. vehicle showed security forces beating student protesters.

Also Friday, activists said there was intense government shelling in the opposition stronghold of Raston and the nearby city of Homs.

Hopes for peace may get some boost from international envoy Kofi Annan. A spokesman says the former U.N. chief is planning to return to Damascus to again pursue a peaceful solution to the conflict. But the spokesman said there is not a timetable yet for what would be Annan's first visit since brokering a cease-fire agreement in March.

The United Nations says the death toll from violence related to the anti-government uprising that erupted more than a year ago may now reach 10,000.