28 Apr 2011

Five EU nations summon Syrian ambassadors

11:22 am on 28 April 2011

Five EU nations have summoned Syrian ambassadors to condemn Damascus's recent violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Paris government officials say the diplomatic action has been carried out jointly by France, Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Earlier, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Syria for using tanks and live ammunition against the demonstrators.

The BBC says there are reports of further shooting in the southern city of Deraa, where the rallies first erupted last month.

More tanks are said to be headed for city - where army troops attacked protesters on Monday.

More than 450 people across Syria have allegedly been killed since the pro-democracy protests began nearly six weeks ago.

Regime disputes non-violence claim

The government of President Bashar al-Assad disputes the Western view that the demonstrations have been non-violent.

In a statement carried by the official news agency, it says it has sent troops to several cities on the request of citizens who were worried about "armed extremists".

Opposition leaders say however that the protests are peaceful.