Activists say over 90 people, including children, have been killed in a “massacre” carried out by security forces in the central Syrian province of Homs, Agence France Presse reported.
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The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 25 children were among the dead Friday, in the town of Houla. However the main opposition bloc, the Syrian National Council (SNC), put this figure at more than 50. The head of the UN mission to Syria, Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, said 32 children under the age of 10 had been killed, according to CNN.
Dozens more were wounded in what was one of the bloodiest attacks since the uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Assad began in February 2011, wrote the BBC.
The SNC urged the UN Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to examine the massacre, Al Jazeera reported. Later in the day, AFP wrote that the SNC said it renounced the UN-backed peace plan "unless there was prompt UN intervention to protect civilians." The Free Syrian Army also released a statement Saturday that said "Annan's plan is going to go to hell."
Activists said some victims were killed in what the BBC described as “summary executions,” while the SNC said “entire families” were massacred, as security forces carried out their assault.
Houla is a hub for opposition fighters rebelling against the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Al Jazeera reported.
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The latest violence comes as the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, said the government was responsible for many daily abuses being carried out in Syria, the BBC reported.
In a statement released Saturday, Ban and Kofi Annan, the joint United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria, confirmed and condemned the Houla massacre, Al Jazeera reported.
"This appalling and brutal crime, involving indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force, is a flagrant violation of international law and of the commitments of the Syrian government to cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres and violence in all its forms," said the statement. It also called for bringing the perpetrators to justice.
United Nations monitors visited the corpses today, a video of which can be seen below. Warning: the video contains some graphic images.