10/04/2011 - DAMASCUS (AFP) – Syrian government forces killed at least four people and wounded 17 when they strafed a residential area of the coastal town of Banias with gunfire for hours on Sunday, witnesses told AFP.
A Syrian security officer was later killed and another was wounded when their patrol was ambushed in the northwestern coastal town, the official SANA news agency reported.
The latest deadly violence came one day after mourners in the southern town of Daraa, epicentre of more than three weeks of pro-democracy protests, buried around 20 demonstrators killed by security forces.
In Banias, the civilian toll was at least four dead and 17 wounded on Sunday from shooting by security forces in the neighbourhood of Ras al-Nabee, where the Al-Rahman mosque has been a focal point of anti-regime demonstrations.
"The army and security forces and gunmen besieged the town from all sides and fired without interruption for several hours," a university professor told AFP.
"(President) Bashar al-Assad is sending us a message: punish those who dare demand freedom with death," he said.
The gunfire came from the Alawite neighbourhood of Al-Quz, two witnesses said, with one adding that it was "a real massacre with snipers shooting to kill."
.. Banias residents on Saturday had reportedly agreed to stage a rooftop protest at 10:00 pm to call for the fall of the regime, but by 8:30 all land lines and cell phones were cut.
.. Anti-regime demonstrations and clashes with security forces raged across the country on Friday leaving 28 dead, including 26 in Daraa, according to an updated toll by six Syrian rights groups.
And on Saturday security forces shot at protesters in Daraa, wounding two people, an activist said, as a huge crowd buried the dead from the previous day.
..An unprecedented opposition movement erupted in Syria on March 15 challenging the regime of Assad, who has been in power since 2000, to introduce major political reforms.
..Assad last month ordered a legal committee to draft new legislation to replace emergency laws, in force since 1963, which give security services great leeway to crush dissent.
Sun Apr 10, NICOSIA (AFP) – Syrian security forces killed a total of 28 people on Saturday, human rights activists said Sunday.
Twenty-six died at the funerals of protesters killed in and around the southern agricultural town of Daraa, while two more were shot dead in the industrial town of Homs, in west central Syria.
"Police and security services broke up peaceful demonstrations on Saturday by firing live ammunition, causing the death of 26 people," six Syrian human rights group said in a joint statement.
Thousands of people attended the funerals of 17 people gunned down in Daraa, flashpoint of more than three weeks of anti-government protests, and another 10 killed in surrounding villages on Friday.
In addition, the groups say the authorities have been carrying out "arbitrary arrests" in different regions, and they said that 13 people had been detained in the Mediterranean coastal towns of Latakia and Jabla.