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Rights group: Scores of anti-government activists arrested in Syria

By Amir Ahmed, CNN
Syrian anti-government protesters march in the northeastern town of Qamishli on Friday, April 1.
Syrian anti-government protesters march in the northeastern town of Qamishli on Friday, April 1.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An official of a human rights group describes a "wave" of arrests across Syria
  • At least 117 anti-government activists and intellectuals were arrested, the official says
  • "We were able to confirm only 117 ... we expect the number to be a lot higher," he adds
RELATED TOPICS
  • Damascus (Syria)
  • Sana
  • Syria
  • Human Rights

(CNN) -- Syrian authorities have arrested at least 117 activists, intellectuals and anti-government supporters since early Monday, a human rights group said.

"The wave of arrests across the country includes journalist Faiz Sarah ... along with many more," Wissam Tarif, executive director of the human rights group Insan, told CNN. "We were able to confirm only 117 arrested but we expect the number to be a lot higher," he added.

The group said authorities raided homes and arrested opponents in the capital, Damascus, and also in the cities of Latakia, Homs, Aleppo, Jubah, Tartus and Banias.

The coastal city of Banias remained sealed off Monday after violence broke a day earlier. At least four people were killed and 17 others injured in clashes between security forces and pro-democracy protesters, according to eyewitnesses. Some people ventured out Monday to bury some of the dead, with more burials expected Tuesday.

Phone lines were spotty and are believed to be monitored, eyewitnesses told CNN. Electricity returned in certain parts of the city but remained unreliable.

Other parts of the country also were tense as military and security forces gathered around government buildings and university campuses in anticipation of protests.

In the capital, for the first time faculty members joined hundreds of students demonstrated Monday at Damascus University's applied science and law colleges in the city's central Baramka area, Tarif said.

"They were peaceful, then pro-regime forces closed off the campus and white busses came and detained at least seven people, some were beaten. One student from the city of Jassem, in Daraa province, was severely beaten inside the campus because the forces believed he organized the protest." Tarif said.

A video on YouTube.com claiming to show the protest showed students chanting slogans in support of Banias and Daraa, where the anti-government protests started in the country last month.

The Syrian government blames foreigners and instigators for infiltrating peaceful demonstrations and feeding violent confrontations. The country's official news agency, SANA, published on Monday the names of six police officers who SANA said were killed and 166 others who were injured "when militants fired at them over the last few days in Daraa, Reef, Damascus, Homs and Latakia."

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