Photo: Reuters
Activists: 54 died in Syria military factory blast
Mini-van packed with explosives blows up near factory in government-controlled area, activists say

An activist group says a bombing of a military factory in central Syria this week has killed 54 people.


Rami Abdul-Rahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday that the bombing took place in a government-controlled area Wednesday and that reports on it were slow to emerge.


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He says a mini-van packed with explosives blew up near the factory in the village of al-Buraq while employees were waiting for busses after work.


Abdul-Rahman says those killed included 11 women and that all were civilians. He says the factory makes military supplies, but not weapons.


"These people work for the Ministry of Defense, but they are all civilians," he said "There was no one from the military" killed in the blast.


Syria's state news agency reported the blast on Wednesday evening, saying "terrorists" detonated a car bomb near a factory.


It was claimed the attack exposed the rebels' connection to Israel.


No one has claimed responsibility for the blast, which resembled others in recent months that appeared to target buildings associated with Syria's military and security services.


Some of the bombings have been claimed by an al-Qaeda-linked group fighting alongside the rebels, Jabhat al-Nusra, which the US had designated as a terrorist organization.


In violence Friday, the Observatory reported clashes and regime shelling in the southern and eastern sectors of the Syrian capital, Damascus, including in the restive suburb of Moadamiyeh, where six people were killed by government shelling overnight.


Meanwhile, the United Nations said that about 5,000 refugees flee Syria each day, seeking safe haven from war and its devastating impact on basic living conditions.


An acceleration in the exodus - up from 2,000 to 3,000 late last year - means the total could exceed one million refugees well before the end of June, its previous forecast, the UN refugee agency said.


"This is a full-on crisis," Adrian Edwards, spokesman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told a news briefing in Geneva. "There was a huge increase in January alone, we're talking about a 25 percent increase in registered refugee numbers over a single month."


Roi Kais and Reuters contributed to this report



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