Syrian activists said a car bomb exploded Monday near a school for girls, killing one student and leaving 25 other people wounded in the city of Deraa. Meanwhile, at least 47 bodies of women and children were discovered in Homs, one of the cities hit hardest in the violent crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad's regime against an uprising that began a year ago.
Activist Maher Abdelhaq told Reuters the car bomb went off at 9 a.m. in the al-Kashef neighborhood in front of al-Mahatta High School for Girls. Abdelhaq said the school has been active in anti-Assad demonstrations. Deraa, which is on Syria's border with Jordan, has been the scene of sporadic street fighting between the rebel Syrian Army and Assad's troops, activists said.
The bodies in Homs were discovered hours after Kofi Annan, special envoy to Syria and former United Nations secretary general, left Damascus on Sunday without a deal to end the bloody year-old conflict. Although Annan said he had two sets of talks with Assad, the diplomat acknowledged that finding common ground won't be easy. It's going to be difficult but we have to have hope, he said.
Several Western and Arab countries have tried to isolate Assad, who retains several powerful allies, including Iran. The northwestern city of Idlib also came under military assault, reports said.
According to Hadi Abdallah, a Syrian activist of the opposition Syrian Revolution General Council, the bodies of 21 women and 26 children were found in the Karm el-Zaytoun and al-Adawiyeh neighborhoods of Homs.
The activist alleged that the massacre was carried out by Syrian forces and thugs with the support of Assad's regime. The bodies were burned with throats slit and stab wounds, Abdallah told CNN.
Syrian state television, however, blamed armed terrorist groups for the mass killings. It said armed terrorist groups -- a term Assad's government uses to refer to the rebels -- kidnapped and slaughtered the people from the village but depicted it as the handiwork of the regime to tarnish the image of Syrian forces.
The U.N., the Red Cross and other human-rights groups have been trying to get humanitarian aid to the battered villages, but Syrian forces have been blocking access to the agencies.
The human-rights activists in Syria have alleged government forces are heavily shelling the civilian areas and destroying bridges, trapping the people in villages without aid.