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Syria

Several dead after suicide bomb rocks central Damascus

Authorities chased three suspcted car bombers through the streets of the capital but were able to intercept two. The third targeted the city's Tahrir Square, killing several people.

A suicide attacker set off an explosion in Tahrir Square in downtown Damascus on Sunday, killing at least 20 people and injuring dozens more, reported state news agency SANA. The Syrian foreign ministry informed the United Nations of the updated death toll in a letter, SANA said.

"The terrorist bombings killed and wounded several civilians and caused physical damage to the area," a senior police representative told the official SANA news agency. Authorities believed that the terrorists were trying to target busy areas as citizens returned to work after the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

The bomber was in one of three cars being pursued by authorities. The other two were intercepted by security services on the road toward the airport in the southeast of the city. While reports stated that the second two car bombs did detonate, there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Read: Relentless bombing forces Syrian rebels and civilians from stronghold

One resident told French news agency AFP that he had seen Red Crescent volunteers treating wounded soldiers, as well as two burned-out cars and a damaged security checkpoint.

"The specialized agencies have thwarted the terrorist plot that targeted to hit populous places in order to cause the highest possible casualties," said Syrian Minister of Local Administration Hussein Makhlouf, without elaborating further.

While the fighting in the capital has been less intense than in flashpoints like Aleppo and Homs, there has been ongoing fighting in the east of the city between rebels and regime troops, as well as sporadic attacks on government targets by Islamist terrorists. Suicide bombings on the outskirts of the city have increased in recent months, including an attack on a courthouse and restaurant in March that killed 32 people. That incident was claimed by the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group.

es/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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