United Nations observers on Friday reached the Syrian village of Al-Kubeir where dozens of residents were massacred two days ago, activists told Agance France Press.
The monitors on Thursday were fired at by gunmen and forced to turn back as they tried to reach the village located in a farming region in the central province of Hama.
"The observers first headed to the village of Maarzaf where the victims were buried and then to Al-Kubeir to survey the damage from army shelling," activist Abdel Karim al-Hamwi said.
He said soldiers at a checkpoint in Maarzaf ordered residents not to speak to the observers or face reprisals.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 55 people, including women and children, were massacred in Al-Kubeir on Wednesday by pro-regime militiamen known as shabiha.
The government has denied involvement while the international community has denounced the killings with U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon warning that Syria stood on the brink of full blown civil war.
Paul Danahar, a BBC correspondent travelling on Friday with the U.N. convoy, reported seeing gutted buildings in Al-Kubeir and no sign of life.
"The largest of the two houses on a hilltop in Al-Kubeir has been gutted by fire. The stench of burnt flesh is still strong," he wrote in a message on Twitter.
He quoted activists as saying that government forces had removed the bodies of the victims on Thursday while the observers were being hindered from reaching the village.
Danahar said Al-Kubeir consists of just a few single-storey flat-roofed buildings set in the middle of corn fields.
|Copyright © 2012 Naharnet.com. All Rights Reserved.||http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/42828|