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January 16, 2013

Coordinated Blasts Kill 24 in Syria

by VOA News

Syrian activists say three coordinated car bombs targeting security installations in northern Idlib province have killed at least 24 people, mostly government forces.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one of the car bombs targeted government vehicles near a building used by one of President Bashar al-Assad's domestic security agencies. A second hit a government security office and the third a highway checkpoint near Idlib.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The state-run SANA news agency offered a differing version, saying two suicide bombers hit a pair of targets, killing 22 people and wounding 30.

Shelling by government forces was also reported in Daraa, Homs and the suburbs around the capital, Damascus.

The Observatory said the death toll from two explosions at the University of Aleppo on Tuesday rose to 87 and with more than 150 people wounded. Among the dead are students and refugees who had settled at the campus in Syria's largest city.

The country's education ministry said classes and exams are suspended at the university Wednesday to mourn those who were killed.

The cause of the explosions is not clear, but the government and opposition activists blamed each other.

Also Wednesday, the U.N. World Food Program said the Syrian government has given the agency permission to work with more local non-governmental organizations to distribute aid.  The WFP says this will give it access to an additional one million Syrians suffering from hunger.

The 21-month conflict has killed at least 60,000 people.