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Middle East
Syria mourners 'attacked by security forces'
At least 11 dead and 27 injured in Homs, activists say, as thousands attend funerals for those killed on Friday.
Last Modified: 21 May 2011 14:18

At least 11 mourners have been killed and at least 27 wounded in Homs after security forces opened fire on a massive funeral procession, according to human rights activists.

More than 40,000 people gathered in Homs on Saturday for the funerals of protesters killed in the city on Friday and were walking back from the cemetery in Tal al Nasser on the outskirts of the city when they were fired on without warning, a witness told Al Jazeera.

The sound of gunfire and cries to help the wounded were audible over the phone as Al Jazeera spoke to the eyewitness.

But lawyer and human rights activist Lina Mansour told Al Jazeera, "Today we've lost about 10 people killed in Homs. Tens of people injured as well."

The wounded have been taken to private clinics and homes as people feared the secret police would raid and arrest the injured from the main state hospital, he said, as they had done in previous such attacks.

Mansour also said that one of the more difficult aspects of the uprising had been that Syrians simply had little, if any, information about friends and family who had been detained.

"Up to the moment there are hundreds of people who went missing and there are people who were detained and they were really tortured... People are detained haphazardly, and we don't know who is alive and who is not."

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In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria

She also explained the harsh situation for medical treatment and medical workers themselves.

"Hospitals in Syria are not really able to deal with the huge numbers of injured and killed. The doctors and the medical staff are not allowed to deal properly with the injured people or even treat them... The security forces attacked the ambulances that are full with injured people."

Another lawyer and human rights activist Razan Zaitouna told Al Jazeera that about 58 people have been killed since Friday and that the number continues to increase by the hour.

Zaitouna said while her human rights group has eleven names of those killed in protests at Homs, the actual death toll is much higher because there are many hospitals in different areas that have not yet been contacted for confirmation of casualties.

"First we should be clear, [the] violence is from one side," she told Al Jazeera by phone from Damascus.

"People on the street act peacefully and don't use any kind of violence. So who can stop this violence? It is the regime which uses the violence to crack down. It's the regime who can stop the violence against the people who are demanding freedom - peacefully," she said.

Zaitouna said there were many chances for the regime to open dialogue with the Syrian people and to stop the deadly crackdown, but now it might be too late.

'I don't know if [the Assad regime has] even decided to start a dialogue in the future [and] if the people will agree [to one] after all this blood, after all these people who got killed by the security [forces]," she said.

Al Jazeera cannot verify reports from Syria because of restrictions placed on reporting by the Syrian government.

The death toll in Friday's anti-government protests rose to 47, according to Insan, a Syrian human rights organisation which has gathered the names of those killed.

Earlier in Homs, a witness told Al Jazeera that security forces opened fire on mourners and shot into the air to disperse crowds leaving the Grand Mosque, but left the scene, retreating in tanks as the size of the funeral procession overwhelmed them.

He said that the massive procession converged from funerals at various mosques around the city.

"When we gather in large numbers we show our power. As individuals we are strong, but this is a stronger
message," the witness told Al Jazeera. "We encouraged people to join us on this funeral march and people of all backgrounds and religions did."

The size of Saturday's crowd could offer a hint as to the level of grassroots support for anti-government protests which have been ongoing since mid-March, and have reportedly seen the deaths of over 850 Syrians at the hands of government security forces.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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