Syria: unrest death toll reaches 171

At least 171 people are believed to have been killed during three weeks of unrest in Syria, Amnesty International said today after at least eight more fatalities during protests.

Thousands of unarmed Syrians gathering today across the country to call for greater freedoms were reportedly attacked by security forces firing live ammunition.   Amnesty has confirmed that eight people were killed today in protests - six in the southern city of Dera'a and two in Homs in the west. The death toll from today's clashes could rise significantly, according to reports from human rights activists in the country.   Since the first protesters died in Dera’a on 18 March, Amnesty has recorded the names, via information received from sources including human rights activists and lawyers, of 171 people killed. The majority appear to have been killed by live ammunition fired by the security forces.   Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Philip Luther said:   "The alarming reports coming from Syria today show that the authorities have not altered their violent methods for dealing with dissent.   "The Syrian government needs to take urgent action to rein in its security forces and prevent the loss of further lives."

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