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Twelve killed in Saturday’s Latakia protests, presidential adviser says

Twelve people were killed in clashes Saturday in the northern city of Latakia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s adviser, Buthaina Shaaban, told AFP on Sunday.

"The official death toll in Latakia Saturday is 10 people -- citizens and members of the security forces -- and two gunmen," Shaaban told AFP.

She accused Palestinian refugees from a nearby camp of wanting to fuel sectarian strife in Latakia, home to some 450,000 of Christians, Sunni Muslims and Alawites, an offshoot of Shia Islam.

Ahmed Jibril, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, denied any Palestinian involvement in Saturday's violence, in a statement published in Al-Watan.

Syrian troops have entered the port city of Latakia, 350 kilometers northwest of the capital Damascus, a day after an official said two passers-by were killed by snipers.

Saturday's bloodshed was the latest in a spiral of violence that has gripped Syria since protests broke out on March 15, with demonstrators demanding major reforms.

The government has announced a string of reforms in a bid to appease the protesters, including the possibility of lifting emergency rule which has been in place since 1963.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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