SYRIA: Amateur video said to show government agents crushing protest
Fresh amateur video footage posted to the Internet claims to show pro-government agents in civilian clothes breaking up a peaceful sit-in in the Syrian capital on Monday, hauling demonstrators into a van.
The dramatic clip, claimed to have been filmed in Damascus' Arnoos Square, shows crowds of men and women sitting in a street, chanting and clapping their hands. Activists say 250 people turned out for the sit-in during which rally-goers chanted, "The Syrian people are not divided by sectarian issues," "Stop the gunfire" and "Stop the siege on our cities."
At one point, the crowd gets up and starts marching down a street as curious passersby look on, prompting what are said to be plainclothes security officers to show up at the scene and take action.
One man wearing a shirt and dark pants is seen ordering a couple of women on the sidelines of the protest to "go away, quickly," and barking at others standing outside shops lining the street to go back to work.
After his warning, tumult breaks out in the crowd. Flickering images show people running from the scene as shouts are heard in the background. Some people appear to be running into stores, but they are followed by others who appear to be security guards or officers, some descending on what appears to be a shoe store.
The camera then closes in on the shop next door, from which two people are seen being dragged away and hauled into a nearby white van. One of them is shown being beaten inside the vehicle.
Activists say several students, a physician and a writer were detained at the demonstration.
-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut
Video credit: YouTube