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Amnesty Calls on Syria to Probe Deaths of Six Demonstrators

Syria should start an independent investigation into the deaths of six antigovernment protesters during unrest in the southern city of Daraa, Amnesty International said in an e-mailed statement today.

Four men died after security forces opened fire on demonstrators on March 18, a fifth man was shot dead the next day and a sixth person died yesterday after inhaling tear gas during unrest on March 20, the statement said.

“These deaths must be investigated promptly and thoroughly and those responsible for unlawful killings brought to justice,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The rallies in Syria mark the latest extension of the political turmoil that has engulfed the region this year. Uprisings have toppled the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt and threatened the rule of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, where United Nations-backed international forces have started air strikes to protect civilian protesters.

Syria’s southern province of Daraa is now calm, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said today. Gatherings in villages have been disbanded after demands were submitted to the authorities, the news agency said.

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