AMMAN Syrian troops killed up to 30 worshippers as they were entering a mosque to attend Ramadan evening prayers in a village northwest of the city of Hama, opposition activists said on Tuesday.
"Troops and shabbiha (militia loyal to President Bashar al-Assad) left the roadblock on the edge of Shariaa and crossed the main road and began firing automatic rifles at the worshippers as they were entering the mosque," Jamil al-Hamwi, one of the activists, said by telephone from al-Ghab Plain.
"We have confirmed the names for 15 bodies and it is estimated there is a similar number still to be collected from the streets," Hamwi, who uses a pseudonym for safety reasons, said.
The roadblock was manned by troops backed by tanks as well as militiamen recruited from Alawite villages near Shariaa, he added. Assad belongs to the same (Alawite) minority sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
A statement by the Hama Revolutionary Council said: "The village mosque has 15 bodies (in it) so far. Transport of the dead and wounded is ongoing. The streets are strewn with bodies."
It was impossible to confirm the report immediately. Syrian authorities have banned most independent media from the country.
(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Editing by Andrew Osborn)