Syrian forces kill 35 in protest town - residents

AMMAN Sun Jun 5, 2011 11:56pm IST

Protesters chant slogans in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as they carry his pictures outside al-Omari mosque, where another demonstration to express solidarity with Syria's anti-government protesters is taking place, in downtown Beirut June 3, 2011. REUTERS/ Mohamed Azakir

Protesters chant slogans in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as they carry his pictures outside al-Omari mosque, where another demonstration to express solidarity with Syria's anti-government protesters is taking place, in downtown Beirut June 3, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/ Mohamed Azakir

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AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian forces have killed 31 civilians since Saturday during demonstrations in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour demanding the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, residents said on Sunday.

The killings began when snipers deployed on the roof of the main post office fired volleys of bullets at a funeral for six protesters who were killed on Friday, when a large protest demanding democracy came under fire, they said.

"In the last 24 hours at least 31 people have been shot dead, among them eight mourners at the funeral," said one of the residents, a history teacher who gave his name as Ahmad.

He said angry mourners torched part of post office after the shooting.

The official Syrian news agency said "armed terrorist groups" killed four policemen in the town, attacked public buildings and "spread terror in the heart of citizens who called on the authorities to intervene forcefully to protect them".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 31 civilians and four police were killed. Ammar Qurabi, head of the Syrian Human Rights Organisation, said security forces killed at least 20 civilians.

"The killings in Jisr al-Shughour are an act of revenge by the state for the Friday protests and another attempt to silence a Syrian town through the use of violence," Qurabi said.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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