Bomb aboard bus kills 7 in heart of Syrian capital Damascus



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DAMASCUS, Syria — A bomb exploded on a bus near Damascus' medieval city center on Sunday, killing at least seven people, including Lebanese Shiite pilgrims, according to Syrian activists and Lebanese media.

Another 20 people were wounded in the blast, which occurred near the Damascus citadel and the centuries-old Hamidiyeh bazaar, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists inside Syria.

Rocket fire from nearby rebel-held towns routinely strikes Damascus, but bombings are rare in the heavily policed city center.

The Britain-based Observatory said the bus had Lebanese license plates and identified the passengers as Lebanese Shiite pilgrims. Al-Manar, a channel operated by the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, reported similar information and broadcast footage from a local hospital. It said the Shiite pilgrims were traveling from one holy shrine to another, without elaborating.

The broadcaster said the explosion was caused by a bomb planted on the bus.

Syrian state-run media had earlier said five people were killed in the blast. Conflicting tolls following blasts in Syria are normal. State media did not report the nationalities of those killed.

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