24 Apr 2011

Mourners killed at funerals of Syria protesters

3:45 pm on 24 April 2011

Reports from Syria say security forces shot dead at least 12 people at funerals for anti-government protesters on Saturday.

Witnesses said security forces opened fire on mourners gathering in a suburb of the capital Damascus and near the southern town of Deraa, the BBC reports.

Activists said the death toll from Friday's nationwide protests could exceed 100.

Tens of thousands of people had taken to the streets after Friday prayers, a day after President Bashar al-Assad had formally scrapped decades-long emergency rule.

There has been widespread international condemnation of the Syrian authorities' use of force.

US President Barack Obama has accused Syria of using "outrageous" violence against the protesters.

Syrian officials blame criminal gangs for the violence.

A government-appointed cleric and two MPs have resigned over the killing of demonstrators.

One of the MPs, Naser al-Hariri, told al Jazeera television that there was no use remaining in parliament if he was incapable of protecting citizens "from these treacherous bullets".

With foreign journalists unable to get into the country, the accounts of casualties from eyewitnesses, opposition activists and human rights groups cannot be independently verified.