An explosion 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.
News outlets close to rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad said a mortar bomb had exploded.
Residents told AFP the police blocked off the road linking the two historical neighborhoods of Bab Tuma and Bab Sharqi, where the bombing took place.
An AFP journalist at the scene 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.
It was the first major blast reported inside the walls of the Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is one of the oldest cities in Middle East, dating back some 4,000 years.
It was unclear who was behind the attack, but there were many potential targets in the vicinity.
One was the ancient Mariamite Cathedral, seat of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, which like most churches has avoided announcing a stance on the 27-month-old struggle between Assad and the rebels.
The church is near the cobblestone Roman “Straight Street” that runs past many old buildings and a luxury restaurant once frequented by Assad and his inner circle.
(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)