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April 17, 2011

Syrian Forces Kill 8 Protesters in Central Town

Rights activists in Syria say security forces killed at least eight people overnight in the central town of Homs.  Several others were injured.

The violence comes less than a day after gunmen, also suspected to be members of the security forces, killed three people and wounded dozens more during a funeral for an anti-government protester, in Homs.

Thousands of people rallied across the country Sunday, demanding greater freedom.  Sunday was Independence Day in Syria.

Activists used social networking sites to urge Syrians to demonstrate against the government, despite a promise by President Bashar al-Assad that decades-old emergency laws will be lifted within a week.

Mr. Assad made the announcement Saturday.  Syrian demonstrators have been demanding an end to the emergency laws, which give security forces sweeping powers to carry out arrests and detentions. 

Human rights groups say more than 200 people have been killed during the government's crackdown on protests.

Syria has been ruled by the Assad family since 1970, when the current president's father, Hafez al-Assad, became head of state.  He died in 2000.  

The emergency law effectively limits most constitutional protections for individual citizens in Syria by banning demonstrations, controlling the media and allowing eavesdropping.  It has been in effect for nearly 50 years.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

 

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