AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- A car bomb exploded near a major hotel in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Sunday, wounding several people, a pro-government television station reported.
The powerful blast shook the Dama Rose hotel and shattered much of its glass, Ikhbariyeh TV reported. The hotel in the past was used by U.N. observers visiting Syria. The site of the blast is 500 meters (yards) from the army chief-of-staff's building.
The report said the bomb was planted under a car parked in an outdoor lot near the government Labor Union building. The union chief, Mohammad Azouz, told The Associated Press that at least 12 people -- all syndicate members -- were wounded by shattered glass and two of them are in critical condition.
Regional satellite stations broadcast brief clips from the capital showing a plume of white smoke rose from a building. Azouz said firefighters at the scene were putting out a blaze caused by the blast, while ambulances were taking the wounded to nearby hospitals. He said there were blood stains on the street.
In northeast Raqqa province, the state news agency SANA reported that gunmen assassinated a leading member of the ruling Baath party. It said the gunmen broke into the home of Ismail al-Hamadeh at dawn and sprayed him with bullets as he slept, killing him instantly.
Elsewhere in Syria, the army clashed with rebels in the northern cities of Idlib and Aleppo, Damascus and the southern border town of Daraa where the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011, according to the London-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
In the Damascus suburbs of Harasta and al-Hajira, the army and the rebel Free Syrian Army exchanged heavy fire, killing a handful of rebels, SANA said. The army destroyed some rebel vehicles fitted with machine guns, according to the report.
Associated Press reporter Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, contributed to this report.