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Syrian security forces wearing plain clothes allegedly killed three people and injured two others near a mosque in the mainly Muslim-Sunni city of Banias, an anti-government activist said Sunday.

‘The plain clothes agents of (Syrian President) Bashar al Assad shot from speeding cars at a crowd of people who were standing near the Mosque of Abu Baker al Sadek in Banias, wounding at least five,’ a Syrian activist told the German Press Agency dpa by phone.

Doctors in Banias later said three of the wounded had died.

The attack came shortly after activists challenged Assad to allow the media to cover anti-government protests inside Syria. Al-Assad has, for his part, declared that his country is in the process of enacting comprehensive reforms.

The activist, who resides in Banias, said some parts of the city were left without electricity and no functioning landline phones.

The attack was carried out by people in at least seven cars, the activist said.

‘Those are regime thugs and we have some of their names.’

Banias is in northwestern Syria, about 55 kilometres to the south of Latakia.

Foreign journalists are either barred from Syria, or are largely confined to the capital Damascus. Several of them have been detained briefly after protests began last month. Activists have been uploading many videos of anti-government protests onto the internet.

On Friday, state media reported that 19 members of the security forces were killed and 75 were injured by ‘armed groups’ in the southern city of Daraa.

Syrian TV showed a video, allegedly of ‘armed men firing on the security forces.’

The opposition accuses government agents of shooting at protesters demanding the president’s ouster. It and rights groups estimate the death toll from Friday’s various demonstrations at 27.

Violent government crackdowns on anti-government protests have been reported since they began on March 15, especially in Daraa. m&c

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