Five Killed By Syrian Forces

Posted October 8th, 2011 at 1:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Syrian security forces have fired into a crowd of mourners attending the funeral of a prominent Kurdish opposition leader, killing five people.

Witnesses say the deadly shootings took place on Saturday in the town of Qamishli, where about 50,000 people had gathered to pay their last respects to Mashaal Tammo.

Tammo was a founding member of the Kurdish Future Party and member of the newly formed opposition Syrian National Council. Unidentified gunmen killed him in his home on Friday.

The funeral turned into a mass rally against President Bashar al-Assad. Witnesses say mourners called on Mr. Assad's government to step down, chanting “leave, leave.” At one point, demonstrators toppled a statue of Mr. Assad's father, the late President Hafez al-Assad.

Activists say anti-government protesters also rallied in several other towns.

Meanwhile, Austrian police say 11 people were arrested on Saturday after a small group of protesters broke into the Syrian embassy in Vienna and staged an anti-Assad rally.

In another development, dozens of Syrian opposition leaders met in Stockholm Saturday to discuss strategies to advance reforms.

During the past week the United Nations' human rights office said more than 2,900 people have died in Syria's anti-government unrest, which is now in its seventh month.