A powerful explosion went off in Damascus' historic Marjeh Square Tuesday morning, killing and wounding dozens. Government media put the casualty figures at 13 dead and over 70 wounded.
Ambulances and rescue workers evacuated the dead and wounded from Damascus' iconic Marjeh Square. Windows were blown out from nearby buildings, palm trees caught fire, and crumpled vehicles were strewn about.
Amateur video showed a thick cloud of white smoke rising over the city center while residents of nearby districts reported being jolted by the blast. It was the second powerful explosion to rock the Syrian capital in 24 hours.
The country's Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi reportedly survived a bomb blast Monday, which left several of his body guards dead and wounded. That blast, in another upscale district, hit in an area known for government buildings and embassy compounds.
Opposition forces have been increasing their attacks on Damascus as the fighting has dragged into its third year.
Several opposition activists claimed that a government military vehicle had been the target of the latest explosion. It was not possible, however, to confirm the report as Syria does not permit independent news media coverage.
The Syrian foreign ministry accused "terrorist groups" of being behind the two most recent attacks, according to the state news agency SANA. The ministry also claimed that al-Qaida's "cash, training and arms" were behind the series of recent attacks.
Monther al Marcos, an opposition leader in Istanbul, told Al Arabiya TV that he thought the Syrian government was behind the bombings. He said the center of Damascus has "numerous government checkpoints," and is "difficult to enter without being searched."
Eyewitnesses also report that Syrian government planes bombed the Bab al Hawa border crossing with Turkey. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that several people had been killed.