DAMASCUS, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- An explosive device went off Thursday afternoon near the Syrian Interior Ministry in the capital Damascus, causing only material damages, sources and media reports said.
The explosive device was attached to an electrical bicycle and tore through the area near al-Uthman Mosque and the Interior Ministry in Kafarsouseh district, the sources said.
The state-news agency SANA said the minor explosion had caused material damages only.
The explosion marked a new trend in using bicycles to carry out blasts after the Syrian authorities have maximized the security measures in Damascus, ringing all the governmental buildings with blast walls and increasing the number of checkpoints at the entrances of Damascus and in some sensitive streets inside of it, causing suffocating traffic jams.
Separately, the pro-government Sham FM radio said about 200 armed rebels were killed Thursday during clashes with government troops in the northwestern province of Idlib.
It said the Syrian troops have closed in on armed groups at Ma' arat al-Numan town in Idlib, adding that those armed men are being chased by the troops.
In another account, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activists' network, said that a Syrian fighter jet bombarded on Thursday the town of Deir Sharqi in Idlib, destroying a field hospital and 12 neighboring houses, adding that no casualties have been reported since the hospital and the houses had been evacuated earlier.
Another activists' network, the Local Coordination Committees ( LCC), said that 30 people were killed Thursday in Ma'arat al-Numan by the government troops. Other reports indicated that the area has been subject to an air strike.
Meanwhile, activists also reported clashes in the Damascus' district of Tadamun and other eastern suburbs between the armed rebels and the Syrian army.
The LCC said at least 124 people have been killed on Thursday nationwide. Yet, the activists' reports could not be verified independently.