Deaths as blast hits Syrian city of Homs

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An explosion has struck the central Syrian city of Homs, killing and wounding an unspecified number of people, reports say.

A TV report said a car bomb exploded near a sweet shop in the pro-government neighbourhood of Wadi Dahab.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported an explosion in Wadi Dahab, saying that it was not clear whether a car bomb or a rocket caused it.

Several car bombs have exploded in Homs over the past few months, killing and wounding dozens of people. Wadi Dahab is home mostly to Alawites, members of the minority sect of president Bashar Assad.

An explosion in Wadi Dahab on June 12 killed seven people and wounded 25.

Meanwhile, a suicide bombing in a southern Beirut neighbourhood has killed a security officer and wounded 20 people.

The overnight attack – the second such bombing this week –heightened fears that Lebanon was reverting to a cycle of violence after a few months of respite.

The explosion occurred near a checkpoint and a cafe in the Shatila area of the Lebanese capital. The area is a stronghold of the Shiite militant Hezbollah group, which has been heavily involved in fighting alongside president Bashar Assad’s army in neighbouring Syria.

The state-run news agency said security officer Abdul-Karim Hodroj died in the explosion.

It was not clear if the checkpoint, where Mr Hodroj was deployed, was the intended target of the attack. Among the wounded were people who had gathered at a nearby cafe to watch World Cup matches.

The explosion comes amid mounting regional tensions over events in Iraq.