17 Mar 2012

Blasts shake Syrian capital

9:40 pm on 17 March 2012

Several police and civilians have been killed in two explosions in the Syrian capital Damascus, state TV says.

A broadcast described the blasts as "terrorist" attacks. Preliminary reports suggested vehicles packed with explosives had been detonated, it said.

Residents and opposition sources say security buildings have been hit. The cause is not known.

The reports cannot be independently verified as access to Syria for journalists is severely restricted.

Dozens of people have been killed in bomb attacks in Damascus and the second city Aleppo in recent months.

The BBC reports that the latest blasts came two days after the first anniversary of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, which has left more than 8000 people dead.

Fresh anti-government protests were held on Friday in cities across Syria.

On Friday UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan renewed calls for an end to fighting and for unimpeded humanitarian aid for Syria.

Speaking to UN Security Council members, he said he was sending a team to Damascus to discuss setting up a new international monitoring mission.