DAMASCUS, Syria — A roadside bomb struck a bus in Syria's central province on Thursday, killing 19 people, a local government official said.
The explosion in the village of Jbourin also wounded four people on the bus, according to the official from the governor's office in Homs province who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
The village is predominantly Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam and a minority sect to which President Bashar Assad belongs, but it also has Christians and Sunni Muslims.
It was not immediately clear why the bus was targeted but Syria's civil war, which has left more than 100,000 dead since the crisis erupted in March 2011, has taken increasingly sectarian overtones. Most of the rebels trying to overthrow Assad belong to the majority Sunni sect.
Elsewhere in Syria, al-Qaida-linked gunmen captured a town near the Turkish border after heavy clashes with a rebel group that held the area, an activist group said Thursday.
It was the latest development in what has been a relatively new component in the conflict — stepped-up infighting between extremists with ties to al-Qaida and Western-backed opposition groups.
The U.S. and its European and Gulf allies are increasingly concerned about the rising prominence of Islamists among the rebels, who have been playing a major role in the battles against Assad's forces.