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2 reported dead in Syrian coastal city

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Syria protests go on despite crackdowns
  • NEW: Two killed, five wounded in Latakia, group says
  • Gunfire reported in Syrian coastal city
  • Opposition activists put Friday's death toll at 15
  • Troops roll into another town in embattled Syrian province, group says

(CNN) -- At least two people were killed and five others wounded Saturday after a government crackdown in the Syrian port city of Latakia, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

The deaths occurred after Syrian military forces started shooting indiscriminately, said Rami Abdul Rahman of the Syrian Observatory.

Earlier, loud explosions and gunfire were heard in the city, signaling a possible crackdown, according to opposition activists.

Security forces were deployed across several neighborhoods, said the Local Coordination Committee of Syria, an opposition group, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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The groups attributed the eyewitness reports to residents and opposition members. Because the government has restricted international journalists from reporting in Syria, CNN was not able to independently confirm the claim.

The violence followed demonstrations after weekly prayers in the Syrian city of Hama on Friday.

Meanwhile, government troops reportedly extended their clampdown to another town nearby. Three opposition groups each reported that 15 people were killed Friday in Syria.

Government troops moved Friday into the town of Khan Sheikhoun, north of Hama, opposition activists said.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency reported that the troops were fighting armed gangs in the embattled northwest province of Idlib, an acknowledgment by President Bashar al-Assad's government of military operations that human rights groups allege have resulted in the killings of civilians.

At least one woman was killed in clashes between demonstrators and Syrian forces, according to the Observatory for Human Rights, which cited reports from opposition activists in the city.

The identities of the opposition activists were withheld by the Observatory at their request out of concerns for their safety.

Armed snipers opened fire Friday "randomly" in three towns and killed three officers and two civilians, according to SANA. Security forces killed four gunmen and made arrests in response, it said.

The news agency said "limited gatherings" were reported in other parts of the country.

In Hama, where military units withdrew earlier this week, busloads of plainclothes security forces opened fire to break up anti-government protests after Friday prayers at local mosques, an opposition activist there told CNN. There were reports of casualties, but their number and severity were unknown, he said.

Activists took to the streets again in Homs, despite the killing on Wednesday and Thursday of more than two dozen residents there, activists said. Videos showed the determination and defiance of the demonstrators. One video showed demonstrators being shot at by security forces, then regrouping and returning to the streets.

CNN's Amir Ahmed, Arwa Damon, Nada Husseini and Yesim Comert contributed to this report.

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