DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A car bomb exploded Sunday near the police headquarters in central Damascus, killing at least one person and damaging nearby buildings, Syria’s state-run news agency said.

The blast is the latest in a series of bombings and suicide attacks targeting security personnel and government institutions as Syria plunges deeper into chaos. Damascus, in particular, has become a frequent target for car bombs and suicide blasts, but there have been several massive bombings in the northern city of Aleppo and others cities across the country as well.

Residents reported hearing a huge explosion that rattled the Syrian capital just after sundown Sunday. Another explosion was heard shortly after the first, but the nature of that blast was not immediately clear.

A Syrian government official told The Associated Press the first blast was caused by a car bomb in the Fahameh district near police headquarters. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government policy, said the explosion damaged nearby cars and buildings. He did not say whether the police headquarters was among them.

The official SANA news agency said one person was killed, and Syrian state TV described the blast as a “terrorist” attack. Syrian authorities deny there is an uprising in the country and blame the conflict on “terrorists” and “armed gangs” acting out a foreign conspiracy to destabilize Syria.

The Syrian opposition denies any links to terrorists, but a Sunni extremist group called Jabhat al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for bombings in the past.

Explosions in the capital have become increasingly common as Syria’s civil war escalates. On Aug. 18, rebels carried out a sophisticated bombing of a regime security building that killed four members of Assad’s inner circle.

Last week, four bombs tore through a government-held district in Syria’s commercial and cultural capital of Aleppo, killing more than 30 people and reducing buildings to rubble.

The uprising against Assad began in March 2011 and gradually became a bloody civil war. The conflict has killed more than 30,000 people, activists say, and has devastated entire neighborhoods in Syria’s main cities.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.