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Syrian officials killed by gunmen

Gunmen have assassinated a senior prosecutor and a judge in north-west Syria, while activists reported that security forces shelled rebel-held areas in the besieged city of Homs.

The Sana news agency said gunmen opened fire on a car carrying Idlib provincial state prosecutor Nidal Ghazal and judge Mohammed Ziadeh. The agency said the two were killed instantly along with their driver.

Syrian rebels control parts of Idlib province, which borders Turkey. It has been one of the regions hardest hit by a government crackdown on an uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime.

The uprising began with mostly peaceful protests but has transformed into an armed insurgency against Assad in many areas, raising fears the country is spiralling toward civil war. In January, the UN estimated that more than 5,400 had been killed since March.

SANA said the prosecutor's assassination came a day after gunmen shot dead Jamal al-Bish, a member of the city council of the nearby northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest. It said he was killed outside the city, a centre of support for President Bashar Assad that has been relatively quiet since the uprising began.

The Syrian government blames armed "terrorists" acting out a foreign conspiracy to destabilise the country.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group said shelling continued of the Homs neighbourhood of Baba Amr, which has been subjected to government forces attacks since February 4.

The group also said troops stormed the eastern town of Sukhna searching for fugitive members of the opposition, and that one woman was shot dead during the raids.

Syrian security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at thousands of people marching in a funeral procession that turned into one of the largest protests in the capital Damascus since the 11-month uprising began.

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