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Middle East
Syria protesters killed in Homs
At least 17 pro-democracy demonstrators were killed by security forces as demands for president Assad's ouster continue.
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2011 13:04

Syrian security forces have killed at least 17 pro-democracy protesters in the city of Homs, rights activists have said. 

The killings on Sunday night come as anti-government demonstrations continued across the country.

Al Jazeera's correspondent Rula Amin, in Damascus, reported on Monday that the situation in Homs is very tense and "people are complaining that many of the wounded are not going to the hospital, they fear that the security forces will pick them up from their hospital bed. 

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"There is also a shortage of blood according to the people we have been talking to." 

Funerals for the victims were planned following noon prayers on Monday in Al-Nour mosque, "but people are concerned that clashes might erupt following the processions," our correspondent said.

She also added that there is tension in the town of Talbiseh near Homs.  "The government says that gunmen have been going near the highway blocking the road.

"When security forces went to control the situation they were attacked by gunmen, one policeman was killed and another one injured, and three gunmen killed," she said.

Outside forces blamed

Our correspondent said the government and the opposition are trading blame over the escalated tensions and the deadly clashes.

"The stories between the government and the protesters vary. It is very hard to get information from there because there are no journalists there to verify what is happening," she said.

The latest clashes came two days after the Syrian president said the country's decades-long emergency laws would be lifted within a week and also promised a number of other reforms.

Activists had called for protests across Syria on Sunday, which was Syria's Independence Day, commemorating the departure of the last French soldier 65 years ago.

The Damascus Declaration, an opposition umbrella group, called for peaceful protests in all Syrian cities and abroad to "bolster Syria's popular uprising and ensure its continuity".

In a statement posted on its website, the Damascus Declaration said the government was responsible for killing and wounding hundreds of Syrians who have been exercising their legitimate rights in the past month.

"The regime alone stands fully responsible for the blood of martyrs and all that will happen next in the country,'' the statement said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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