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Roadside bomb hits suburb of Damascus

A roadside bomb exploded in a restive suburb of the Syrian capital as senior U.N. officials toured the area Sunday, the latest incident in which the unarmed observer mission has nearly been caught up in the country's bloodshed.

No casualties were reported in the blast, which detonated about 500 feet away from visiting U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous and Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, the chief of U.N. observers in Syria. Journalists accompanying the team also were nearby. The explosion blew off the front of a parked vehicle.

A U.N. observer team with more than 250 members now on the ground has failed to quell the bloodshed in Syria, although it says it has had a "calming effect" in certain areas. Meanwhile, on several occasions, the team has come close to being caught in an attack, although there is no conclusive proof that it has been targeted.

Earlier this month, a bomb targeting an army truck exploded seconds after a convoy carrying Mood went past in the country's south.

Last week, a roadside bomb damaged the mission's cars in a northern town just minutes after witnesses said regime forces gunned down mourners at a funeral procession nearby.

It was not immediately clear what the target of Sunday's explosion was, but the damaged car was parked near a security checkpoint in the suburb of Douma. A security official at the checkpoint told the U.N. observers that gunmen had targeted two military buses in Douma earlier in the day, wounding more than 30 security agents.

"We obviously don't have the specifics about what happened here this morning," Mood said Sunday.

Ladsous gave a grim assessment of conditions for civilians in Douma, the scene of repeated clashes between security forces and rebels in recent months.

"[Douma] is completely paralyzed," Ladsous said. "There is still some fighting taking place. It's absolutely imperative that all parties exercise restraint and don't engage into any more fighting. It serves nothing."

Activists reported heavy shelling Sunday in the town of Soran in the central Hama province.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights called on the international observers to visit Soran and investigate reports of more than a dozen killed.