Tens of thousands of mourners have taken to the streets in Syria to protest the assassination of a Kurdish opposition activist. European officials have called for the perpetrators of the killing to be held accountable.
Catherine Ashton described the killing as an 'appaling crime'
The European Union has condemned the assassination of a leading Kurdish opposition activist in Syria as tens of thousands of mourners attended his funeral on Saturday and called for President Bashar al Assad to step down.
"These appalling crimes further add to the EU's grave concern over the situation in Syria," a statement issued on behalf of EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said. "All those responsible for and complicit in these crimes must be held accountable."
Meshaal al-Tammo, a charismatic opposition figure recently released from jail, was gunned down by masked men on Friday. It remains unclear who was responsible for the killing.
Tammo was a spokesman for the Kurdish Future Party and a member of the executive committee of the Syrian National Council, a broad coalition representing Syria's opposition.
"He is another victim of the brutal regime of lawlessness," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Berlin on Saturday.
"The opposition's determination won't be crushed by violence, and international pressure won't diminish, but will increase further," he added.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Tammo's funeral came under fire and at least one person was killed and three others wounded. The organization estimated that at least 50,000 mourners showed up for the funeral around the city of Qamishli, but said that it remained unclear who opened fire.
Ethnic Kurds make up 10 percent of Syria's 20 million people and have been historically discriminated against, with Kurdish-language schools and radio stations forbidden. In 2004, Kurds staged violent protests against President Assad and have been generally supportive of the current uprising.
Author: Spencer Kimball (Reuters, AP, KNA, AFP)
Editor: Andreas Illmer