A bomb attached to a fuel truck exploded Wednesday outside a Damascus hotel where U.N. observers are staying in the Syrian capital, wounding at least three people, Syrian state TV reported.
The report said the explosion took place near a parking lot used by the army command, which is about 300 meters (328 yards) away. None of the wounded were believed to be U.N. staff.
But according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene, the blast had gone off inside a different parking lot belonging to a military compound near the Dama Rose Hotel, popular with U.N. observers in Syria.
The hotel was slightly damaged in the blast, with some of its windows shattered. A labor union building across from the hotel was also damaged and black smoke was seen billowing into the sky before the fire was extinguished.
Major clashes broke out in the immediate aftermath of the bombing. A large number of casualties, including fatalities, were reported.
The Free Syrian Army, the main rebel group, claimed responsibility for the attack, the pan-Arab news network Al Arabiya reported Wednesday.
U.N. officials in Damascus had no immediate comment when contacted by The Associated Press.
Damascus has been hit by a wave of explosions in the past few months. Clashes between government troops and rebels have also recently reached the capital, which had been relatively quiet since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime started in March last year.
Activists say more than 20,000 people have been killed since then and the conflict has morphed into a full-out civil war.
"Those who carry out such terrorist attacks are destroying their country in order to get some pounds," shouted Ali Mohammed Ismail, 48, who said he happened to be in the area when the explosion occurred.