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2 Killed in Anti-Government Unrest in Syria

Syrian protesters shout slogans outside the Omayyad Mosque after Friday prayers in Damascus, March 25, 2011
Syrian protesters shout slogans outside the Omayyad Mosque after Friday prayers in Damascus, March 25, 2011

At least two people were killed in anti-government unrest in Syria on Saturday, as thousands of activists took to the streets after funerals for demonstrators killed Friday.

Syrian officials and activists say two people were killed and two others were wounded in the coastal city of Latakia. There are conflicting reports about whether the victims were killed by security forces or by snipers. The incident took place as anti-government activists attacked the local office of the ruling Baath party.

Elsewhere, anti-government protesters set fire to a Baath party office and a police station in the southern town of Tafas.

Also, new anti-government rallies erupted in the southern city of Daraa, the epicenter of protests against President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Thousands of protestors rallied Saturday after funerals were held for three of the people killed in unrest Friday in Daraa. Witnesses said at least 15 people died in the demonstrations in that city.

On Saturday, U.N. Human Rights chief Navi Pillay urged Syria's government to respect the people who are demanding change in the country. Pillay warned that continued killing of protesters will only lead to more anger and violence.

Demonstrators have been calling for sweeping democratic reforms that effectively would reverse many policies of President Assad and his Baath Party allies.

Anti-government protesters also have called for an end to the state of emergency that has been in effect in Syria for decades. They also want curbs on Syria's pervasive security apparatus, freedom for all political prisoners, and freedom of expression for the Syrian public.

Media reports say about 55 people, including two children, have been killed in unrest in Syria during the past week.

Human rights groups reported Friday that the Syrian government freed 260 prisoners, in an apparent bid to appease opposition activists. Most of those freed are Islamists who completed at least three-quarters of their jail sentences.

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

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