In Syria, the U.N. Government inspected the site of an explosion that flattened a block of houses and killed at least 16 people, while the government and the opposition traded blame over the cause of the blast.
Syria and UN
Media in Syria reported that the rebel bomb-makers accidentally set off the explosives the previous day. Anti-regime activists said intense shelling by government forces had caused the extensive damage. It was impossible to independently verify the conflicting accounts because President Bashar Assad’s regime, facing a 13-month-old uprising, has restricted access for journalists and other outside witnesses.
Kofi Annan, Ahmad Fawzi, the spokesman for U.N. visited the site in Syria but they had no immediate word on what they saw. Two U.N. observers are stationed in Hama, part of an advance team of 15 monitors who are visiting hot spots to try to salvage a ceasefire that is part of a peace plan aimed at ending the violence inSyria and bringing the two sides to the negotiating table. The observer team is to be expanded in the coming weeks to up to 300.
Syria and Annan
According to SANA, the state-run news agency in Syria the rebels mishandled the explosives and triggered a blast that killed at least 16 people and severely damaged at least six houses. The Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists, denied that and said it was intense shelling from government tanks that caused the damage. The group put the death toll as high as 70, but that estimate was not confirmed by others.
In Syria the Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights, confirmed that the cause of the destruction was not immediately clear. The Observatory initially cited reports by local residents that they had come under attack from regime forces. Information minister of Syria said that the armed terrorist groups have stepped up their attacks since Annan’s peace plan went into effect, adding that they have breached the ceasefire plan more than 1,300 times.