DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A strong explosion rocked the Syrian capital Thursday near a busy market and the Palace of Justice, sending black smoke billowing into the sky. State TV reported at least three people were wounded and around 20 cars were damaged.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene said some cars were charred and many had their windshields blown out.
"I did not see any wounded people, but cars and nearby shops were damaged," said Fawaz Mishhim, a witness who was in a nearby market when he heard the explosion.
Syria's state-run TV said the explosion was in the parking lot of the Palace of Justice, a compound that houses several courts. The blast happened at 1 p.m. near the capital's famous Hamidiyeh Market, an area crowded with families stocking up on food and other supplies for the weekend, which begins on Friday in Syria.
Witnesses reported hearing one blast, but state-run TV said two explosions struck the area. The report also said a roadside bomb was found but did not explode.
Syria has been hit by a wave of massive explosions in recent months, killing dozens of people. Most of the explosions targeted the security agencies of President Bashar Assad, who is fighting to end a 15-month-old uprising against his rule.
Last month, an explosion targeted a military intelligence compound south of Damascus killing 55 people. It was Syria's deadliest blast.
Much of the violence that has gripped Syria since the uprising began has been sanctioned by the government to crush dissent. But rebel fighters are launching increasingly deadly attacks on regime targets, and several massive suicide attacks this year suggest al-Qaida or other extremists are joining the fray.
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