Syria, Homs - AP - December 7, 2011
A Syrian tank in Homs, December 2011. Photo by AP
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An explosion killed seven people and wounded several others in the southern Syrian town of Daraa on Saturday, residents said, in what the Syrian government
said was a suicide car bomb attack.

"At least seven people were killed and another eight injured. They happened to be next to the car when it exploded," Saed Jawabra, a Daraa resident said.

Residents said a white Kia car exploded in a park near amilitary checkpoint in the town's Rawda district, shattering windows in the area and leaving a huge crater.

"A terrorist suicide bomber on Saturday detonated a car he was driving," the Syrian state news agency Sana said, reporting two people had been killed and 20 wounded.

Opposition activists in Daraa denied the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber but did not give an explanation for the attack.

"The explosion shook the whole town and ambulances rushed shortly after. We heard heavy gunfire after that," said Deraa resident Mahmoud Masalmeh.

Reports could not be independently verified as the Syrian government has restricted access to journalists in the country.

Also on Saturday, Syrian activists said troops were shelling several districts in the rebellious central city of Homs where the government is keeping a Red Cross convoy blocked from reaching thousands stranded in the area.

Abu Hassan al-Homsi, a doctor at a makeshift clinic in Khaldiyeh district of Homs said he had treated a dozen wounded.

The Local Coordination Committees activist network said mortars slammed into Khaldiyeh, Bab Sbaa and Khader districts of the city early Saturday.

The shelling came amid a standoff between the government and the Red Cross, which says authorities have prevented its a convoy from delivering badly needed food, medical supplies and blankets to thousands of people still stranded in Baba Amr, the rebel-held district of Homs that was overran by troops Thursday.

Heavy clashes erupted on Saturday between Syrian troops and rebels in the province of Idlib near the border with Turkey, opposition activists said.

The government forces were shelling the province as they "combed" several districts hunting for rebels, Mohammed Abdullah, a Syrian activist in the area, told dpa.

There were no immediate reports about casualties.

Elsewhere, government forces stormed villages in the central province of Hama, arresting more than 50 people, according to activists.

On Friday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he had received "grisly reports" that Syrian government forces were arbitrarily executing, imprisoning and torturing people in Homs after rebel fighters fled.