Syria's interior minister said an explosion near a bus parked at a gas station in a Damascus suburb was an accident and three people were killed.

The minister, Said Mohammad Sammour, ruled out a terrorist attack in a statement to state-run Syrian TV. He said the bus driver and two gas station workers were killed when a tire they were pumping air into exploded.

Syrian TV quoted Sammour as saying "there were no explosives involved" in the accident. He added there were no pilgrims nearby when the explosion occurred.

An Associated Press photographer at the scene in the Sayyida Zainab suburb in southern Damascus saw a damaged bus, with the back windshield blown out. Lebanese LBC TV broadcast footage showing the heavily damaged bus from the back, the part near the engine blown apart.

The suburb is popular with Iranian and other Shiite pilgrims and is the location of a shrine dedicated to the granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad.

Police sealed off the area and reporters were banned from reaching the site.