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Syrian Forces Raid Pro-Democracy Campaigners

In this citizen journalism image made on a mobile phone and acquired Saturday April 23, 2011, by The AP, Syrian anti-government protesters carry the coffin of an activist who was killed on Friday during his funeral procession in Quaboun near Damascus, Syr

Syrian security forces are said to have shot dead at least four civilians and detained many opposition activists as authorities widen their crackdown on a five-week anti-government uprising.

Rights groups say police and army units deployed in the coastal city of Jableh Sunday, following a pro-democracy protest against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad the previous night. Witnesses say the killings occurred even though no protests were in progress.

Meanwhile, secret police raids continued around the capital, Damascus, and the central city of Homs. Arrests were carried out across the country Sunday as mourners attended funerals for protesters killed during the previous two days.

Sweeps against anti-government protesters have escalated despite last week's repeal of the country's nearly 50-year-old emergency law. The New York Times, quoting the executive director of the Syrian rights group Insan (Wissam Tarif), said 217 people have disappeared since Friday.

Funerals were held for those killed in the violence Friday and Saturday. Rights groups say at least 120 people were killed in the two-day crackdown.

The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch Sunday called for a United Nations inquiry into the deaths and for international sanctions on the officials responsible for the killings.

President Assad signed a decree ending almost 50 years of emergency rule last week. The ruling was part of his effort to end anti-government unrest by meeting a key demand of protesters.

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

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