Crowd gathers in Damascus to bury slain preacher

DAMASCUS (AP) - Thousands of people have gathered in downtown Damascus amid tight security for the funeral of a senior pro-government cleric who was assassinated in a mosque earlier this week.

Security forces sealed off all roads leading to the eighth century Omayyad Mosque where the funeral for 84-year-old Sheik Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti was held.

Al-Buti, his grandson and 48 others were killed on Thursday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside a mosque where al-Buti was giving a religious lesson.

Mourners carried al-Buti and his grandson's coffin on their shoulders on Saturday amid shouts of "God is Great." Al-Buti was Imam of the Omayyad Mosque, a landmark in Damascus.

Syrian state TV said President Bashar Assad was being represented at the funeral by one of his cabinet ministers.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.