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Bomb blast in Syria's capital kills at least 13

Khaled al-Hariri / Reuters

A destroyed car is pictured near the former Interior Ministry building after a blast in central Damascus on Tuesday killed at least 13 people and injured dozens more, according to state television and activists.

BEIRUT -- A bomb in central Damascus killed 13 people on Tuesday, state television said, a day after Prime Minister Wael al-Halki survived an attack on his convoy in the heart of the Syrian capital.

State television said 70 people were wounded, several critically. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that nine civilians and five soldiers had died.

Pro-government Al-Ikhbariya television showed firefighters running through thick smoke after the blast in Marjeh Square. Two bodies could be seen on the ground.

The target of the attack was not immediately clear. Footage showed the site of the blast was near the former Interior Ministry building on one of the capital's main roads.

Wael al-Halqi, the prime minister of Syria, escaped an assassination attempt this morning when a bomb went off near his convoy in Damascus.

Monday's attack on the prime minister's convoy killed six people in what has become an increasingly common tactic used by rebels.

A resident of Damascus, who lives a mile from the blast site, said the explosion shook the doors of her house.

"It must be huge for me to hear it like that. Casualties must be horrific because it is a super busy square at this time of day," she said over Skype.

Rebels have increased their attacks on Damascus, which include mortar fire from the contested suburbs, in a civil war that has cost more than 70,000 lives according to U.N. estimates.

A bomb in July killed four of President Bashar Assad's aides, including his brother-in-law Assef Shawkat and the defense minister.

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