A car bomb exploded at a busy intersection in the coastal Syrian city of Latakia, killing one civilian and wounding 14, state-run media reported.

Tuesday’s blast was the second in Syria’s government-controlled areas in the last two days, shattering a sense of relative calm in these territories that had somewhat stabilised after major advances by troops against rebel groups in different parts of the country.

Syria’s state-run media said the explosion took place in the city’s Al-Hammam Square. It also said specialised units dismantled a second bomb before it went off at the same location.

“The terrorist explosion caused the death of one civilian and wounded 14 others,” it said, citing a top health official in the province.

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Most of those wounded were hit by shrapnel, the director of the city’s Tishrin hospital, Louay Naddaf, told state television.

Footage broadcast on television showed people gathered around the wreckage of a smoldering car.

Latakia has been a government stronghold since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011.

But the province has been targeted in “sporadic strikes” by rebels gruops, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor.

The region borders the last major area outside of the government’s control, which includes much of Idlib province as well as adjacent parts of Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The blast came two days after an explosion struck a neighborhood in the capital Damascus. No casualties were reported.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon, said it is rare for attacks to take place in government-controlled territories, which raises questions about security in those areas.

Khodr said analysts who appeared on Syrian state media were warning that this may mark a “new phase in the conflict”.

Syria’s war, now in its eighth year, has killed nearly half a million people and forced more than half its pre-war population from their homes.


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