U.N. observers on Thursday inspected the site of a deadly explosion that flattened a block of houses in the central Syrian city of Hama a day earlier and killed at least 16 people.

The government and the opposition traded blame for the blasts. Syrian state-run media said rebel bomb-makers accidentally set off the explosives, while anti-regime activists said intense shelling by government forces caused the extensive damage.

It was impossible to independently verify the conflicting accounts because President Bashar Assad’s regime, facing a 13-month-old uprising, has restricted access for journalists and other outside witnesses.

The spokesman for the U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, Ahmad Fawzi, said observers visited the site but there was no immediate word on what they saw. A pair of U.N. observers is stationed in Hama, part of an advance team of 15 that is to be expanded in the coming weeks to up to 300.

As the violence in Syria continues despite U.N.-led efforts to implement a cease-fire, the international community has become increasingly impatient with the Assad regime. On Wednesday, France raised the prospect of military intervention in Syria, saying the U.N. should consider harsher measures if a peace plan by Annan fails.

Keywords: Syria crisis

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