AMMAN - A train carrying 400 passengers derailed on Saturday and its driver was killed when "saboteur groups" dismantled a section of a northern railway, Syrian officials said.
The incident occurred near the central city of Homs, which has witnessed a military crackdown on demonstrations against President Bashar Assad.RELATED:Blasts hit military college in Syria's Homs, say residentsArab World: The quiet refugee crisis
Homs governor Hassan Abdelal said the train was carrying troops and civilians and that "destiny" helped to prevent further casualties.
"The saboteurs came by motorcycles. The train derailed near a high voltage power line and the driver was burnt to death. The saboteurs are bent on increasing operations and they must be confronted," Abdelaal told Syria's state television.
State television showed images of a burning and overturned train and a dismantled section of the track.
Syrian authorities have expelled most independent journalists from the country, making it difficult to verify witness accounts of events and official statements.
Two explosions were heard overnight
from inside the Syrian Army War College in Homs. The sound of heavy
gunfire was also heard and ambulances were seen heading to the compound
in the old al-Waer district, two residents told Reuters by telephone.
Assad has been relying on the military, dominated by members of his own
minority Alawite sect, to crush a four-month uprising against his
Activists and diplomats say the repression has been triggering limited
defections among the majority Sunni rank and file. The government says
the protests are part of a violent conspiracy backed by foreign powers
to sow sectarian strife.