At least 39 people were killed in a mortar bomb attack on an election campaign tent packed with supporters of President Bashar Al-Assad, Syrian state TV has said, according to Al Jazeera.
The network showed pictures of Assad supporters in the southern city of Daraa dancing inside the tent. It then showed people lying dead and wounded on the ground, including children.
Opposition activists from the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had earlier said that the attack killed 21 and wounded at least 30. The attack took place Thursday but was reported Friday.
Ahmad Masalma, an opposition activist in Daraa, told the AP news agency that rebels from the Free Syrian Army fired a mortar shell at the tent in a government-held area, after repeatedly telling civilians to stay away.
He said there were about 100 people in the tent.
Mohammad al-Hanus, Daraa's governor, told state television that "the terrorists' crime would not prevent the Syrians from voting", using the regime's term for its opponents.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, condemned the attack and reiterated his opposition to indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
The election in Syria is scheduled for June 3, and Assad will face two candidates: Hassan bin Abdullah al-Nouri, a 54-year-old lawmaker from Damascus, and 43-year-old Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar, a lawmaker from the northern city of Aleppo.
Assad himself was last seen in public on April 20 when Syrian state television broadcast images of him visiting the ancient Christian village of Maaloula, north of Damascus, after government forces recaptured it.
In December, the Christian village was captured by rebels who kidnapped a group of nuns. The nuns were released in March in exchange for some 150 women prisoners who were being held in Syria's regime jails.
The election campaign in Syria has continued despite the ongoing civil war. On Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it has documented 162,402 deaths since the uprising against Assad’s government began in March 2011.
With no end to the fighting in sight, the death toll is expected to continue to rise.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)