A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden truck in a central, Shia Syrian village on Monday, state media reported, killing six in the latest attack to underscore the growing sectarian nature of the country’s three-year-old conflict.

Three children and a woman were among the dead in the early morning bombing at a school in Sabtiyeh, near the city of Homs, official news agency SANA said, adding that some 40 people were also wounded. Footage aired on state television showed panicked residents rushing to ambulances carrying wounded children. Facades of buildings were ripped away and cars lay smashed.

“What did these children do to be killed?” a man angrily shouted.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but such bombings are the hallmark of al-Qaeda linked groups who have joined Syrian rebels battling to overthrow the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad.

Syria’s war began as mostly peaceful demonstrations against Mr Assad’s rule, but turned into an armed rebellion after government troops violently suppressed demonstrations. The country is formed of a mosaic of different sects, and the conflict has largely split the country along sectarian lines. Rebels are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims, while Christians and other Muslim sects have for the most part either stood with Assad’s government or remained neutral or involved in peaceful activism.

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