Dozens killed in air strike on Syrian bakery

Activists say dozens, possibly hundreds, were killed during an air strike on a bakery in central Syria Sunday. A large crowd had been waiting in line at the bakery to buy bread.

Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters
A boy holds pita bread as others stand in line outside a bakery in Aleppo December 21. On Sunday an air raid killed dozens as they waiting in line to buy bread at a bakery in the town of Halfaya.

Dozens of people were killed and wounded in an air strike on a bakery in Syria's central Hama province on Sunday, activists said, with some reporting up to 200 dead.

"There is no way to really know yet how many people were killed. When I got there, I could see piles of bodies all over the ground. There were women and children," said Samer al-Hamawi, an activist in the town of Halfaya, where the strike hit. "There are also dozens of wounded people"

Halfaya was seized by rebels last week as part of a campaign to push into new territories in the 21-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

Another activist said residents picking through the bodies were still determining which were wounded and which were dead.

Hamawi, who spoke via Skype, uploaded a video of the scene, which showed dozens of dust-coated bodies lined up near a pile of rubble by a concrete building, its walls blackened.

The sounds of people screaming could be heard in the video, as some men rushed to the scene on motorcycles and other residents limped away from the area.

The authenticity of the video could not be immediately verified. The government restricts media access in Syria.

Activists said more than a thousand people had been queuing at the bakery. Shortages of fuel and flour have made bread production erratic across the country, and people often wait for hours to buy bread.

New York-based Human Rights Watch condemned army air strikes on bakeries earlier this year, arguing that in some incidents the military was not using enough precision to target rebel sites and in other instances may have intentionally hit civilians.

"We hadn't received flour in around three days so everyone was going to the bakery today, and lots of them were women and children," Hamawi said. "I still don't know yet if my relatives are among the dead."

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