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One dead, three wounded in separate Damascus attacks Tuesday

A car bomb wounded three early Tuesday near the Old City part of the Syrian capital. Meanwhile, a Syrian agent was found dead in another Damascus neighborhood.

By Oliver HolmesReuters / April 24, 2012

People gather at the scene of a car bomb explosion near the Iranian Cultural Center (back) in Damascus April 24. The car bomb killed one and wounded at least three people in the central Damascus district of Merjeh on Tuesday, a pro-government Syrian television channel said, blaming "armed terrorists".

Khaled al-Hariri/REUTERS

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Beirut

A Syrian intelligence officer was killed in Damascus on Tuesday, opposition sources said, and pro-government television reported at least three people wounded in a car bomb blast in the capital, the latest upsets to a shaky U.N.-monitored truce.

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The fledgling U.N. observer mission visited the central province of Homs, hotbed of a 13-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, as part of efforts to solidify the 12-day-old ceasefire.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an intelligence officer was killed early on Tuesday in the Barzeh neighborhood of Damascus, but it gave no further details.

Syria's Ikhbaria television said the explosion in a popular Damascus shopping district damaged buildings close to the capital's famed Old City. Iran's Fars news agency placed the blast outside the Iranian cultural center, although the mission run by Assad's major regional ally was not damaged.

Ikhbaria blamed the bomb on "armed terrorists", a reference to rebels inspired by Arab Spring uprisings against repressive autocratic rulers in North Africa and the Middle East who have been fighting to overthrow Assad.

The United Nations says security forces have killed at least 9,000 people, while Damascus says 2,600 of its personnel have died at the hands of insurgents that have seized control of pockets of towns and cities across the country of 23 million and continue to launch daily guerrilla attacks.

The state-run news agency SANA said on Tuesday customs officials on the Syria-Lebanon border had seized a car stuffed with ammunition and weapons, including three machine guns and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

CEASEFIRE "INCOMPLETE"

A small group of unarmed U.N. military observers has been in Syria for just over a week to track an April 12 truce engineered by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Under the terms of the deal, both sides are meant to observe a ceasefire while the military withdraws tanks and heavy weapons from population centers - requirements that the United Nations made clear on Monday were not being heeded.

"The cessation of armed violence remains incomplete," Lynn Pascoe, U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs, told the Security Council during a debate on the Middle East.

The observer mission is supposed to grow to 300 unarmed personnel, although the minimal presence already on the ground has led to a decline in the daily death toll, activists say.

However, they accuse Assad's army of simply parking tanks out of sight on farms on the outskirts of towns and cities and resuming operations the moment monitors' backs are turned.

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