34 Syrians seized by militia found dead: report

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, December 5, 2011 13:47 EDT
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Thirty-four Syrians abducted by pro-regime “shabiha” militiamen on Monday were found dead in the flashpoint central city of Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

The Britain-based watchdog said an activist on the ground reported seeing “the bodies of 34 civilians, in a square in the pro-regime neighbourhood of Al-Zahra, who had been abducted by the shabiha on Monday.”

The civilians, it said, had been seized from several “anti-regime neighbourhoods” in Homs, which has been targeted by a brutal crackdown on almost nine months of anti-regime dissent.

The Observatory also reported the so-called “shabiha” abducted on Monday a bus driver and his 13 passengers in Homs province.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have laid siege to Homs for the past two months.

Seven people were reported killed in the city and province on Monday by gunfire from the security forces, the Observatory said, after a bloody weekend that saw 63 people dead, at least half of them in Homs.

Elsewhere on Monday, mutinous soldiers killed four members of the security forces, including an officer, at the southern protest hub of Dael in Daraa province, the Observatory said.

A regime truck was also set ablaze during Monday’s attack, the Observatory said, adding hundreds of Syrian forces deployed in Dael, where raids and arrests were underway.

Daraa is the cradle of the protests which erupted in mid-March in Syria, one of the most autocratic Arab nations. UN estimates say more than 4,000 people have been killed across the country in the government crackdown.

The Observatory also accused security forces of arresting 18 students on Monday, eight of them for insulting the president.

The students in Jabla, in western Syria, were “accused of insulting President Assad,” it said, adding the allegations were made by “informants” at the school.

The other 10 were arrested near Damascus for joining an anti-regime protest in the district of Harasta, the Observatory said.

Meanwhile the Syrian Centre for Media and Free Expression said the authorities arrested blogger Razan Ghazzawi at the border with Jordan as she headed to Amman on Sunday to represent them at a workshop on press freedom.

Also on Monday, the Observatory reported that pro-regime students and security forces harassed university students in the coastal city of Latakia.

The watchdog also said 30 students from Daraa studying at Latakia’s Tishrin University were detained, and another 60 were expelled.

It did not say when the arrests occurred but stressed “that these students were threatened by their peers, subjected to pressure, abuse and insults over sectarian loyalties.”

The latest reports of bloodshed and arrests come as the foreign ministry said it has “responded positively” to a request by the Arab League to allow in observers as part of a peace plan to end the unrest.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
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