Syrian official shot dead in Damascus

Associated Press + More

BEIRUT (AP) — A Syrian activist group says gunmen have shot and killed a government official in a Damascus restaurant.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Ali Ballan, head of public relations at the Ministry of Social Affairs and a member of Syria's relief agency was killed late Thursday.

The group, which relies on a network of activists in Syria, said the shooting occurred in the western neighborhood of Mazzeh. It gave no further details Friday.

Damascus has witnessed a number of assassinations since the country's crisis began in March 2011.

Last month, a suicide bomb killed top Sunni Muslim preacher Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti in a Damascus mosque.

On July 18, a bomb inside a high-level crisis meeting in Damascus killed top security officials, including the defense minister.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.