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Syria car bomb explosion shatters ceasefire truce

Syrian state television and a rights watchdog say a number of people have been killed following a car bomb attack in Damascus, breaking a temporary cease-fire agreed to by government and rebel forces.

The two sides agreed to hold their fire for the duration of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. The car bomb explosion follows several other reported several breaches of the temporary truce.

State television says the "terrorist car bomb" had killed five people and wounded 32. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the figures.

"The explosion of a booby-trapped car outside the Omar bin Khattab mosque in the area known as Shorta in the Daf Shawk district killed five and wounded over 30 people including children," the watchdog said.

The first major violation of the cease-fire brokered by United Nations-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is reported to have come in the northern town of Maaret al-Numan.

"Violent clashes started around 10:30 am (7:30 GMT) around the Wadi Deif base. The army responded by bombing the neighboring village of Deir Sharqi," Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told the AFP news agency.

The Observatory also reported fighting in the central al-Khalidia district.

Another opposition group that monitors the conflict, the Local Coordination Committee, reported that at least 10 people had been killed across Syria since the truce was meant to come into force.

In many parts of the country, the cease-fire appeared to be holding and opposition activists reported that people were using the calm to hold mass anti-government protests.

As Eid al-Adha began, Syrian state television broadcast video of President Bashar Assad praying at a mosque in Damascus.

Watch video 01:20

Fragile truce in Syria

The truce was meant to last until the end of the holiday, which runs through Monday.

Both the government and the main rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, pledged to observe the cease-fire, but both reserved the right to respond to any attacks by the other side.

An attempt by Brahimi's predecessor, Kofi Annan, to broker a truce failed: Though both sides agreed to a cease-fire last April, fighting continued unabated, despite the presence of UN military observers.

More than 34,000 people have been killed since the conflict began with anti-Assad demonstrations in March 2011, according to opposition activists. Severe restrictions placed upon journalists working in Syria make this, like many figures, virtually impossible to verify.

pfd, jr/mkg (dpa, AP, AFP)

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