DAMASCUS - A suicide bomb attack in a Christian area in the heart of the Syrian capital on Thursday killed at least four people, state television said.
"A terrorist suicide bombing... in Damascus has left four people dead and several others wounded," the broadcaster said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the toll, adding that the likely target of the bombing was a Shiite Muslim charity located in the Christian neighbourhood.
"According to preliminary reports, four people were killed and several others wounded," said the Britain-based Observatory.
"The bombing took place close to the Ihsan charity, which is Shiite," watchdog director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
"I believe the charity was the actual target."
Though it began with peaceful protests calling for the fall of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Syria's war has grown increasingly sectarian over time.
The majority of Syria's rebels -- like the population -- are Sunni Muslim, while Assad belongs to the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
Sectarian tensions have grown further in recent months, ever since the entry into Syria's conflict of Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.
Residents of the neighbourhood said the police blocked off the road linking the two historical neighbourhoods of Bab Tuma and Bab Sharqi, where the bombing took place.
A journalist saw a corpse stretched out on the pavement.
At least two shops were damaged by the blast, said the correspondent, adding that firefighters, security forces and soldiers were all deployed in the area.
Official television channel Al-Ikhbariya broadcast footage of the body of a man in a white T-shirt, saying it was the remains of the suicide bomber.
It also showed body parts strewn across the area.
On October 12, 13 people were killed in an attack in front of a police station in Bab Tuma.
In addition, the Observatory on Thursday reported shelling in nearby Al-Amin Street, also in old Damascus, without elaborating.