Syrian authorities release 70 political prisoners; troops storm protest sit-in

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - A Syrian human rights activist says authorities have released 70 political prisoners.

Syria has released groups of detainees in the past week in an effort to appease protesters and contain the fallout from a deadly crackdown on demonstrations that have gripped the country for a week.

Authorities have reportedly detained dozens of others during the violence. Activists say security troops stormed a protest sit-in near the capital Damascus today, arresting about 200 people in a midnight raid. The activists say up to 4,000 people were demonstrating in the town of Douma near Damascus when electricity was cut and the protesters came under attack. The activists spoke on condition of anonymity fearing reprisals.

Meanwhile, a rights activist says protesters in the coastal town of Latakia have set fire to offices of the ruling Baath party.

A Syrian activist in touch with protesters in Latakia said hundreds were burning tires and attacking cars and shops.

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