At least 25 people were killed and 45 wounded in a car bomb explosion in central Damascus on Monday, Syrian state TV said.
“Terrorists detonated a car bomb between the Sabaa Bahrat square and Shahbander Street," said the report, adding that preliminary information suggested the explosion was a suicide attack.
An AFP correspondent said that the bomb blast caused extensive damage and that intense gunfire could be heard shortly after the explosion. A huge plume of grey smoke rose from the scene, he added.
Meanwhile, a resident in Damascus told Reuters the explosion was the biggest she had heard in the capital since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad started in March 2011.
Firefighters rushed to the area and were working to put out flames caused by the explosion, which state broadcaster al-Ikhbariya said had taken place near a school, adding that children were believed to be among the dead and wounded.
Several cars in the area were set ablaze by the blast, which damaged AFP’s Damascus office, blowing out the windows. No staff were injured.
The explosion occurred near the Syrian central bank, and security forces and the army quickly moved into the area to prevent people from approaching the scene of the attack.
Monday’s blast is the latest in a series of car bombs and suicide bombings to hit the Syrian capital. The last such explosion in central Damascus was on Feb. 22, when a suicide car bombing near the ruling Baath Party headquarters killed 53 people and wounded more than 200, according to state media.