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UN: 32 children, dozens of adults killed in Syrian town

These were among the bodies being prepared for burial in Houla, Syria, on Saturday.
These were among the bodies being prepared for burial in Houla, Syria, on Saturday.Reuters

BEIRUT -- More than 92 people were killed in a single Syrian town, the U.N. team monitoring conditions in Syria said Saturday.

"This morning U.N. military and civilian observers went to Houla and counted more than 32 children under the age of 10 and over 60 adults killed," said the head of U.N. team monitoring the ceasefire, which has yet to take hold.

"The observers confirmed from examination of ordinances the use of artillery tank shells," Maj. Gen. Robert Mood said in a statement, without elaborating. "Whoever started, whoever responded and whoever carried out this deplorable act of violence should be held responsible."

The bloodied bodies of children, some with their skulls split open, were shown in footage posted to YouTube purporting to show the victims of the shelling in the central town of Houla on Friday. 


The carnage underlined just how far Syria is from any negotiated path out of the 14-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. 

Activists said Assad's forces shelled the town of Houla after security forces killed a protester and following skirmishes between troops and fighters from the Sunni Muslim-led insurgency fighting Syria's rulers, who belong to the minority Alawite sect.

Syrian state television aired some of the footage disseminated by activists after the killing in Houla, calling the bodies victims of a massacre committed by "terrorist" gangs.

It also showed video of bodies with what looked like gunshot wounds to the head, sprawled on bloodstained mattresses.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said residents continued to flee the town, in central Homs province, in fear that artillery fire would resume.

The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed, most of them civilians, in the uprising. 

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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