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Car bomb explodes at crowded gas station in Syria, killing 11

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 7:10 p.m.
Destroyed buildings line both sides of a street in al-Qossur neighborhood in Homs province, Syria, on Thursday Jan. 3. AP
REUTERS
A father mourns the death of two of his children, whom activists said were killed by shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad, in Aleppo on Thursday, Jan. 3. Reuters

AZAZ, Syria — At least 11 people were killed and 40 wounded when a car bomb exploded at a crowded gas station on Thursday in the Syrian capital of Damascus, opposition activists said.

The station was packed with people lining up for fuel that has become increasingly scarce during the country's 21-month-long insurgency aimed at overthrowing President Bashar Assad.

The semi-official al-Ikhbariya television station showed footage of 10 burned bodies and Red Crescent workers searching for victims at the site.

The opposition Revolution Leadership Council in Damascus said the explosion was caused by a booby-trapped car.

There was no immediate indication of who was responsible for the bombing in the Barzeh al-Balad district, whose residents include members of the Sunni Muslim majority and other religious and ethnic minorities.

“The station is usually packed even when it has no fuel,” said an opposition activist who did not want to be named. “There are lots of people who sleep there overnight, waiting for early morning fuel consignments.”

It was the second time that a gas station has been hit in Damascus this week. Dozens of people were incinerated in an air strike as they waited for gas on Wednesday, according to opposition sources.

In northern Syria, rebels were battling to seize an air base in their campaign against the air power that Assad has used to bomb rebel-held towns.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in the uprising and civil war, the United Nations said this week, a much higher death toll than previously thought.

After dramatic advances over the second half of 2012, the rebels now hold wide swathes of territory in the north and east, but they cannot protect towns and villages from Assad's helicopters and jets.

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