2 Apr 2011

More protests in Syria

9:01 am on 2 April 2011

New anti-government protests have occurred in several cities after Friday prayers in Syria, despite heavy security.

Witnesses said thousands of people took to the streets chanting "freedom".

SANA, the state news agency, said the protesters were calling for reforms to be speeded up.

Four people were reported to have been killed when security forces opened fire in the Damascus suburb of Duma.

Friday was called a 'Day of Martyrs' to honour dozens of people killed during two weeks of protests.

Protesters also took to the streets in Deraa, Qamishli, Hassakeh and Latakia. Unrest was also reported in the central city of Homs.

President Bashar al-Assad said earlier this week that demonstrations were part of a foreign "plot".

In a speech on Wednesday, Mr Assad did not announce the lifting of emergency legislation as some analysts had predicted.

However, the president later said he had directed a legal committee to look into lifting unpopular emergency laws - in place since 1963.