No one appeared to be hurt in the shooting on Wednesday night in the city of Qamishli, close to Syria's borders with Turkey and Iraq.

   

"A group of Kurds on motorcycles opened fire at the houses of police officers in the al-Sena'a area late at night," said a resident of the ethnically mixed city where riots by Kurds began after a soccer match last Friday.

   

"The police returned fire but no one was injured. The Kurds fled," the resident, who asked not to be identified, said by telephone from Qamishli.

   

"Apart from that incident, things seem to be calm,"  the resident said.

    

Another resident said he heard gunshots but was not aware of their origin or target.

 

Calm

 

A Syrian official said all towns in the al-Hassaka province were calm on Thursday. Qamishli is one of the multi-ethnic governorate's six main towns.

   

Kurds, meanwhile, buried five people on Wednesday who they said had been shot dead by police as they demonstrated in the northern cities of Aleppo and Afrin to commemorate Saddam Hussein's 1988 chemical attacks on Kurds in Iraq.

   

Tensions were running high again in Afrin on Thursday after a group of Kurdish radicals set fire to a Syrian flag, an official of the Kurdish National Movement, a Kurdish political group tolerated by Syrian authorities, said in Aleppo.

 

"The police returned fire but no one was injured. The Kurds fled"

Unidentified resident,
Kameshli

The Movement's Abu Ruber said some Kurds tried to stop the burning of the flag in Afrin. They failed and police then fired teargas and dispersed the crowd. Residents stayed at home after the incident and streets of the town quickly emptied.

   

Vice President Abd al-Halim Khaddam said on Wednesday Syria's national unity would not be breached by the riots, vowing legal action against those responsible. He accused unspecified foreigners of "trying to benefit from these incidents".

   

Violence in Syria's Kurdish areas erupted on Friday, when five people were killed and hundreds injured in fighting among spectators at a soccer match in Qamishli.

   

Sources in neighbouring Turkey reported more clashes in northern Syria in the following days, bringing the death toll to 30. Khaddam who did not give official numbers said figures reported by the media were inaccurate.

   

Kurds make up about two million of Syria's 17 million people, the majority of whom are Arabs. They have often said they want more rights for themselves as well as citizenship for about 200,000 stateless Kurds also living in Syria.