05/26/2012, 00.00
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Syrian military kills 88 in Houla, scores of wounded, in what activists call a massacre

Activists slam violence by Syrian government forces. Video of dead children are posted online, but independent verification is impossible. Thousands of people protested yesterday after Friday prayers. For UN's Ban Ki-moon, the situation is "extremely serious".

Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At least 88 people, including many children, have been killed in Syria's restive Homs province as government forces attacked rebel positions. Activists call the outcome of the attack a massacre. If confirmed, it would be one of the worst losses of life since a truce was agreed to in April. In a letter to the Security Council, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the opposition controlled "significant parts of some cities." The situation, he added, was "extremely serious," urging states not to arm either side in the conflict.

In addition to the violence in Houla (Homs), Friday saw at least 20 people killed elsewhere in the country, local sources reported, when tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets after prayers. In Houla itself, activists said some of those who died were butchered by government militia, others killed in shelling or summary executions. Pictures and videos have been posted online showing the slaughtered children.

The Local Coordination Committees (LCC) said at least 88 people had died, "most of them women and children". For the Syrian National Council, the UN Security Council must act urgently to stop the carnage. However, neither the reports nor the videos of the violence could be independently verified.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon talked about recent attacks in a letter to the Security Council, especially earlier this month, when a bombing in Damascus left 55 dead.

For him, judging from the sophistication of the attacks, "established terrorist groups" could have been behind some of the recent bomb blasts in Syria.

Overall, UN efforts to end the conflict had seen only "small progress", he noted, and the «situation in Syria remains extremely serious".


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