Protesters storm 3 of Syria's diplomatic missions

AP News
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Posted: Oct 09, 2011 7:40 AM
Protesters storm 3 of Syria's diplomatic missions

Syrian protesters stormed three of their country's diplomatic missions in Germany and Switzerland in what appeared to be a protest against the killing of a Kurdish opposition leader, police said Sunday.

Syria's embassy in Berlin was stormed late Saturday, and another group of protesters took on the consulate in the northern port city Hamburg hours later early Sunday, causing damage to the buildings and tagging walls with slogans denouncing President Bashar Assad's autocratic regime, police officials said.

In Switzerland, five men were arrested after forcing their way into Syria's mission to the United Nations in Geneva late Saturday, police spokesman Patrick Pulh said.

The men, who had been among a small group protesting outside the building, have since been released.

Friday's killing of opposition leader Mashaal Tammo caused international outrage and drew up to 50,000 mourners into the streets of Kurdish-dominated Qamishli in northeastern Syria on Saturday, sparking also protests abroad.

Berlin police spokeswoman Claudia Elitok said 24 Syrians who had protested in front of the embassy eventually tore down the fence late Saturday and managed to enter the building where they damaged paintings, furniture and sprayed slogans like "Free Syria" on walls.

The ambassador, who lives in the building, called German police for help. Several officers entered the embassy and urged protesters to leave the grounds, which they did peacefully. Nobody was arrested, she said.

Security appeared to have been beefed up on Sunday, with police cars seen standing outside the embassy.

In Hamburg, some 30 protesters turned out in front of the Syrian consulate early Sunday, with some of them starting to tag the building's walls, eventually breaking ground floor windows and forcing their way inside, police spokeswoman Karina Sadowsky said.

Protesters smashed windows, tagged walls and broke also into office rooms on the office building's first floor, but they did not reach the consulate's rooms higher up in the building, she added.

Four Syrians were arrested and were still detained early Sunday pending verification of their visa situation, Sadowsky said.

Tammo, a 53-year-old former political prisoner, was a spokesman for the Kurdish Future Party. He was also a member of the executive committee of the newly formed Syrian National Council, a broad-based front bringing together opposition figures inside and outside the country in an attempt to unify the deeply fragmented dissident movement.

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Frank Jordans in Geneva contributed reporting.