Ten killed as troops fire on funeral procession

Syrian security forces opened fire on a funeral procession yesterday, killing up to ten people in Homs, a city that has been besieged for days by some of the worst violence seen during the country's four-month-old uprising, activists said.

Dozens of people - possibly as many as 50 - have been killed in Homs since Saturday, according to activists, human rights groups and witnesses.

"We haven't slept since yesterday," a Homs resident said by telephone, the sound of heavy machine-gun fire in the background.

"I am lying down on the floor as I talk to you."

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Snipers were positioned on roof-tops, keeping a close watch on the deserted streets, the witness added.

The shooting outside the Khaled bin al-Waleed mosque erupted shortly after noon, as families held funeral processions for ten people killed a day before during a security sweep, said the Local Co-ordination Committees, a group that helps organise and document the protests.

The mother of a man being buried was among those killed yesterday, said Mohammed Saleh, an activist in Homs.

The city, about 100 miles from Damascus, has been under siege following reports of a wave of sectarian killings over the weekend that left 30 people dead.

Human rights groups say more than 1,600 people have been killed in president Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on a largely peaceful protest movement. However, he blames the unrest on gunmen and religious extremists looking to stir up sectarian strife.

After the weekend attacks, opposition figures accused Mr Assad's minority Alawite regime of trying to stir up trouble with the Sunni majority to blunt growing enthusiasm for the uprising.