DAMASCUS, Syria -- Three suicide bombers detonated their explosives-packed cars near an officers' club in Syria's northern city of Aleppo on Wednesday, killing at least 31 people and causing massive destruction that trapped scores under the rubble, Syrian state media and activists said.
The blasts went off at a main square in a government-controlled district of the city, while a fourth explosion detonated a few hundred meters (yards) away near the Chamber of Commerce, they said.
Aleppo, Syria's commercial hub and largest city, has seen intensified fighting between regime forces and rebels trying to oust President Bashar Assad, especially after the fighters launched a new offensive last week. But it has not been the target of frequent suicide attacks, and Wednesday's stunning wave of explosions caused panic and fear among residents.
State-run news agency SANA said the bombings targeted Saadallah al-Jabri square, describing them as the work of "terrorists," and said at least 31 people were killed and dozens of others were wounded. Authorities refer to rebels fighting to topple Assad as terrorists and armed gangs.
A state-run channel, Ikhbariya, showed footage of massive damage around the square, which also houses a famous hotel. One building appeared leveled to the ground. The facade of another was heavily damaged.
The TV showed footage of several bodies, including one being pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building.
"It was like a series of earthquakes," said a shaken resident who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals. "It was terrifying, terrifying."
He said the officers' club and the hotel were almost completely destroyed. His account could not be immediately verified, although the TV footage showed at least one building reduced to rubble.