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Syria refugee camp blast kills four

A bomb blast in a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus killed four people and seriously wounded a member of a faction that has backed Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country's bitter civil war, activists said today.

The explosion in the Yarmouk camp targeted the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

Four people died and a PFLP-GC activist was seriously wounded when the bomb planted under his car went off, the group said. It blamed the rebel Free Syrian Army for the attack.

Yarmouk was drawn into Syria's fighting earlier this month when clashes in and around the camp killed and wounded dozens.

The refugee camp is also close to two southern neighbourhoods of the capital - Tadamon and Hajar Aswad - that have seen weeks-long clashes between rebels and government troops.

Regime forces shelled the two neighbourhoods today and also raided the central Damascus neighbourhood of Bab Sreijeh, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Activists said several people were arrested.

In other violence around the country, Islamic extremists, including members of the al Qaida inspired Jabhat al-Nusra group, battled with pro-government Kurdish gunmen in the northern town of Ras al-Ayan, near the border with Turkey.

Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011 with an uprising against Mr Assad's regime, inspired by other Arab Spring revolts, but quickly morphed into a civil war that has since killed more than 40,000 people, according to activists.

When the unrest began, the country's half-million Palestinians struggled to stay on the sidelines. But in recent months, many have started supporting the uprising although they insisted the opposition to the regime should be peaceful.

The Observatory reported that the body of Syrian novelist Mohammed Rashid Roweily was found last night in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, nearly two months after he was kidnapped. State-TV said Roweily was "liquidated by terrorists."

Journalist Bassil Toufic Youssef, who worked for state TV, was shot dead outside his house in the capital yesterday, said the state SANA news agency.

In other developments, Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani was in Damascus where he held talks today with Mr Assad and other officials before flying on to neighbouring Lebanon.

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