19 Feb 2012

Syrian troops fire on protesters

5:42 am on 19 February 2012

Syrian forces have fired on a crowd at a protest in Damascus, killing one person, activists say.

The shooting occurred after the funerals of three youths killed on Friday in a protest against President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, one of the biggest demonstrations the capital since a nationwide uprising started.

The opposition Syrian Revolution Coordination Union said the gunfire near the cemetery had killed one mourner and wounded four others.

A witness told the Reuters news agency that people tried to flee and seek shelter in alleyways when troops began firing at the crowd immediately after the burial on Saturday.

Witnesses said up to 30,000 demonstrators had taken to the streets in the capital's Mezze district.

The violence came during a visit by China's Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun, who urged dialogue in a bid to defuse the 11-month crisis.

"China...calls on the government, the opposition and those with arms for an immediate stop to the violence," he was quoted as saying.