A suicide bomber blew up an explosives-laden car near a revered Shiite shrine in the Syrian capital Thursday, the state news agency said.
The bombing occurred at a parking lot near the holy shrine of Sayyidah Zaynab, which houses the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed's granddaughter, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said.
At least 14 people were injured. It was not clear whether the shrine was the bomber's intended target.
State media showed photographs of a large crater and mangled, charred cars in the parking lot.
A YouTube video posted shortly after the explosion showed black smoke billowing from the vicinity of the shrine, which is near two Syrian government security buildings.
Heavy gunfire could be heard coming from area, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, which collects reports of casualties and violence.
CNN cannot independently confirm accounts of violence as access to Syria by journalists has been severely limited.
While state-run media blamed "armed terrorists" for the attack in Damascus, the opposition accused government forces of conducting a campaign of raids and arrests against those participating in demonstrations in the capital city.
The arrests in the ethically mixed Damascus neighborhood of Hajar al-Aswad followed a demonstration Wednesday night in the area, the opposition Local Coordination Committees said.
The group reported heavy bombardment again Thursday of several Syrian cities, including Idlib, Aleppo and Homs.
At least 35 people were killed in the violence Thursday, the group said.
The escalating violence prompted the United Nations peacekeeping chief to label the Syrian conflict a civil war. The Syrian government, however, dismissed that claim.
"Any talk about civil war in Syria doesn't reflect the reality," the government said in a statement released through the state news agency.
"Syria is not witnessing a 'civil war' but rather a struggle to uproot the plague of terrorism."FULL STORY