Syrian suicide bomb blast kills 31

A SUICIDE bomber driving a truck packed with 1.5 tons of explosives killed at least 31 people and wounded dozens in the Syrian city of Hama yesterday.

The man blew himself up inside the vehicle on a busy road on the outskirts of the city in central Syria, the SANA news agency said. It blamed terrorists, the term it uses to describe rebel forces trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack targeted an army checkpoint but most of the dead were civilians.

Rebels have been joined by hardline Islamists, some of them linked to al-Qaida, who have become increasingly powerful among opposition forces.

According to the observatory, the suicide bomber was from the Nusra Front, an al-Qaida affiliate that has frequently used suicide bombers to attack military and political targets.

Pictures on Syria TV showed firemen trying to put out huge fires as black smoke rose from charred trucks and cars.

Rebels also used a car bomb a day earlier to attack a checkpoint on the outskirts of Damascus. Heavy clashes erupted after the blast and continued till late yesterday.

Rebels said they seized the first checkpoint and were now fighting to capture a second one down the road.

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