Syrian security forces 'fire on mourners'

Activists say at least 14 people killed in latest protests, including six at funeral of prominent Kurdish activist.

    At least 14 people have been killed by security forces across Syria in the latest round of protests, according to the Syrian Revolution General Commission.

    Gunmen opened fire at the funeral of a Kurdish opposition leader in the northern town of Qamishli on Saturday, killing six people and wounding several others, activists said.

    The shooting occurred as 50,000 people rallied against President Bashar al-Assad's government, the Local Co-ordination Committees, a network of opposition activists, told the AFP news agency.

    Al Jazeera is unable to independently verify reports from Syria because of media restrictions imposed by the government.

    Meshaal Tammo, who founded the liberal Kurdish Future Party which considers the Kurds to be an integral part of Syria, was killed at his home on Friday when gunmen burst into his house in Qamishli, according to activists.

    He was a member of the newly formed opposition Syrian National Council and had been released recently after spending three-and-a-half years in prison. Tammo's son was also injured in the attack, activists said.

    Kurdish anger

    Fares Tammo, Meshaal's son, told Al Jazeera from Erbil in northern Iraq, that the Kurds were angry and blamed the Syrian authorities for his father's death.

    "This blood is precious to them [Kurds], they will not give up until the regime is overthrown and until the execution of Bashar al-Assad," he said.

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    Activists in Damascus said Syrian authorities stepped up security in Kurdish areas in the capital.

    Kurds make up about 10 per cent of Syria's 20 million population and largely support the uprising against Assad.

    They have long complained of discrimination and staged violent protests against Assad in 2004. Kurds are not allowed to teach Kurdish in schools or set up Kurdish radio stations.

    While Assad has sent troops and tanks to crush protests against him which erupted in March, he also promised reforms. He has ended a state of emergency and promised parliamentary election in February.

    He tried to appease the Kurds by giving citizenship to tens of thousands of them and casualties in the Kurdish areas have remained among the lowest.

    Many of Assad's opponents say his reform promises are hollow and that his government has forfeited all legitimacy after killing at least 2,900 civilians, by a UN count.

    Two other mourners were shot dead at a funeral in Douma, a Damascus suburb, on Saturday, while a third person died in detention after being tortured, activists said.

    In the central city of Hama, three people were said to have been killed after security forces stormed the town early on Saturday. In Homs, south of Hama, one person was said to have been shot dead by a sniper.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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