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Originally published Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 3:55 AM

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Syrian official shot dead in Damascus

A Syrian activist group says gunmen have shot and killed a government official in a Damascus restaurant.

The Associated Press

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BEIRUT —

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.

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