(IPS/Al Jazeera) A roadside bomb struck a Syrian military truck near Deraa, wounding six soldiers just seconds after a convoy carrying the head of the U.N. observer mission passed by.
An Associated Press news agency reporter who was travelling in the U.N. convoy said the explosion blew out the military vehicle's windows and sent out a plume of black smoke. Vehicles in the U.N. convoy were not hit.
Major-General Robert Mood, the head of the U.N. mission, was in the convoy but escaped unharmed along with 11 other observers, said an AFP photographer travelling with them.
The Norwegian officer said the attack was 'a graphic example of violence that the Syrian people do not need'.
'We were driving behind the U.N. convoy as protection when a roadside bomb exploded, wounding a first lieutenant and five troops,' a soldier who asked to be identified only by his first name, Yahya, told AP at the scene.
At least three bloodied soldiers were rushed away. The blast went off after the head of the U.N. observer mission headed into the southern Syrian city with a team of observers and a convoy of journalists. The explosion was more than 100 metres behind the convoy. It was not clear who was behind the blast.
Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin, reporting from neighbouring Lebanon, said: 'We heard some news coming from Free Syrian Army claiming responsibility for the attack, saying they did attack a military vehicle in Deraa, but it was a vehicle with no U.N. observers.
'How will this affect the U.N. mission and their free access is not clear.' Bernard Valero, French foreign ministry spokesman, strongly condemned the attack. 'We hold the Damascus regime responsible for the observers' security,' he said in Paris.
Meanwhile, troops pounded a rebel hideout near Damascus killing at least three people on Wednesday, among them two soldiers and one civilian, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said. Residents of Douma, about 13km from Damascus, reported heavy shelling since dawn and bursts of gunfire in the town, the SOHR said.
Rebels fighting to overthrow the government of President Bashar al- Assad have apparently sought refuge in Douma.
In Damascus itself, clashes erupted briefly between a security patrol and rebels in the neighbourhood of Maisat, but there were no casualties, the SOHR said. In the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, security forces carried out raids and arrests in the villages of Al-Safira and Al-Hisan.
Two members of Syrian security forces were killed after midnight in the Jura district of Deir Ezzor, the scene of heavy shooting and explosions, the watchdog reported. On Tuesday evening, a man was killed in the town of Soura in Deir Ezzor after unidentified gunmen attacked his car, leaving his daughter wounded.
© Inter Press Service (2012) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service
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