June 2, 2016 / 2:18 PM / a year ago

Suicide bomber kills several in Syrian coastal city Latakia: monitor

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A suicide bomber detonated explosives near a mosque in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia on Thursday, killing and wounding several people, a monitoring group and state media reported.

The explosion took place near the city center as people were leaving prayers, state TV reported, describing it as a terrorist attack.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the conflict using sources on the ground, confirmed the blast took place in a northern area of Latakia.

The Observatory said the blast killed at least three people. State media reported at least one dead and several wounded.

State-run Ikhbariya news channel showed patches of blood on the ground and rescue workers and security personnel carrying wounded people toward ambulances.

Bomb attacks have previously hit Latakia city, which is in President Bashar al-Assad's heartland along the Mediterranean coast.

Shells fired by insurgents later on Thursday hit Assad's ancestral town of Qardaha, further inland in Latakia province, killing at least one person, the Observatory said.

Last week a series of bombings killed nearly 150 people in Jableh, just south of Latakia, and Tartous, the first such attacks of their kind in those cities.

Islamic State claimed last week's attacks, saying they targeted Assad's Alawite minority, and other attacks in the Syrian capital Damascus and western city Homs earlier this year.

Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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