Crowds gather at the site of a car bomb explosion in Damascus. (Yousseff Badawi / EPA )
BEIRUT -- A powerful bombing in central Damascus killed at least 15 people and wounded 53 others on Monday, Syrian state television reported.
Details were still emerging as state news agencies offered contradictory accounts of what happened, with official news services calling it both a bombing and a suicide attack.
A state television channel showed video of flaming cars, mutilated bodies and charred buildings. Somber music played as images of bodies being lifted to ambulances were on screen.
The attack occurred as fighting between the Syrian government and rebel forces has intensified in the capital since January. A suicide bombing at a Damascus mosque last month killed a Sunni Muslim preacher loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and also took the lives of 42 others.
At least 70,000 people have died in the 2-year-old conflict, according to the United Nations.
The Syrian government has consolidated its forces in Damascus even as it has pulled back its troops from some areas in the north and south of the country.
Monday's explosion occurred close to a state tax commission building and a secondary school.
"Does this please God, does this please anyone. Look what they have done to the area, look what they did to the street," said one man interviewed on the street.
Another cried: "Enough bloodshed."
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