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2 Americans arrested in unrest in Syria

Syrian authorities have detained two Americans amid an unprecedented wave of protests in the repressive Middle East nation, relatives and state media said Saturday.

Syria's state news agency Sana alleged that a man with dual U.S.-Egyptian citizenship had "confessed" to selling photos and videos of demonstrations to a Colombian woman. He was later identified by relatives as Mohammed Radwan, 32, of Austin, Texas.

Syrian government television has been blaming foreigners, among others, for the unrest that began more than a week ago.

Radwan's cousin, Nora Shalaby, said she last heard from him on Friday when he tweeted that he was at a mosque in Damascus where security forces were clashing with anti-government protesters.

Shalaby said her cousin was an engineer and had been working in Syria.

The state news agency said Radwan also confessed to visiting Israel. Syria is formally at war with the Jewish state, and visiting Israel is considered taboo.

Meanwhile, a Vermont man said his 21-year-old son Pathik "Tik" Root -- who had been missing since March 18 -- has been found to be safe in Syrian custody.

Tom Root said his son, a Middlebury College student who had been studying Arabic in Damascus as part of a program through Damascus University -- was detained during a demonstration in the capital.

Root said in a message posted Saturday on Middlebury's website that he believes his son was watching, and not participating, in the demonstration.

He said he had "great news" from Syria's ambassador to Washington, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and others that his son remains in Syrian custody and is safe.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States was aware of reports that two American citizens have been detained in Syria and said U.S. Embassy personnel are reaching out to Syrian authorities to obtain more information.

Meanwhile, Syria's long-entrenched government remained under threat on Saturday as protesters marched again for greater political freedom in several cities. Setting fire to buildings in at least two cities, they rejected conciliatory words from spokespeople for President Bashar Assad as his forces continued to shoot unarmed civilians.

In the small seaside city of Latakia, some 300 protesters burned tires and attacked storefronts to press for the removal of an emergency law in place since 1962, used by the government's secret police to detain anyone without trial.

A building used by Assad's ruling Baath party was burned, and security forces responded with gunfire, killing several people and wounding 70, witnesses said.

Elsewhere, protesters burned a police station and another government building in Tafas, witnesses said.

Overall, the protests Saturday were significantly smaller than on the previous day, when tens of thousands of people took to the streets across Syria and security forces killed more than 40 people, according to human rights activists.