BEIRUT - A bomb exploded in central Damascus on Wednesday, killing eight people and wounding 50, with women and children among the casualties, Syria's state news agency SANA said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition monitoring group, reported seven dead and at least 20 wounded in the attack. It cited conflicting reports from activists as to whether the explosion was caused by a bomb or a mortar shell.
SANA said some of the wounded were in critical condition after the blast hit Hejaz square in the heart of the Syrian capital. It blamed the attack on "terrorists", the word state media often use for rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.
It said the blast was caused by an improvised device planted at an office entrance in an area under construction.
Rebels have often planted bombs or carried out mortar strikes in Damascus since the conflict, which began with peaceful protests in March 2011, turned into a civil war. Well over 100,000 people have been killed in the bloodshed.