Masked gunmen beat and broke the hands of Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat early Thursday morning as a "warning" and left him bleeding by the side of the road with a bag over his head, according to a report by a pseudonymous Damascus-based journalist in The Guardian. The paper attributed the attack to Syrian security forces but a more recent report by the AP quotes a Syrian activist as saying the identity of the attackers hasn't yet been confirmed. The Guardian calls the attack a "galvanising moment" for Syrians "similar to when the corpse of 13-year-old Hamza al-Khateeb was returned to his parents bearing marks of severe torture in May." The AP calls Ferzat "the most famous victim of the repression of Syria's five-month uprising."
The 60-year-old Ferzat (shown above in the hospital today) had recently criticized the Syrian regime for its handling of the Syrian uprising, posting cartoons showing Assad frantically painting railway tracks to escape from a barreling train, whitewashing the shadow of a security thug while the real man stands untouched (caption: "Lifting the emergency law"), and trying to hitch a ride with a fleeing Muammar Qaddafi. Ferzat's website is currently down, but The Washington Post has linked to this YouTube video showing a number of Ferzat's cartoons with Syrian protest chants in the background:
The AP also has a recent photo of Ferzat in his studio only a week before the attack: