As anti-government protests continue to rage in Syria, demonstrators have reportedly set fire to several government buildings – including the headquarters of the ruling Baath party -- in the southern city of Deraa.
Other buildings torched comprised a courthouse and two branches of a phone company – all symbols of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
They burned the symbols of oppression and corruption, an activist said, according to Al Jazeera. The banks nearby were not touched.
One protester was reportedly killed by police who attempted to disperse the crowds. Some witnesses claimed police used tear gas and live ammunition on protesters.
The act of arson comes after violent clashes between anti-government agitators and state security officers led to the deaths of at least four people on Friday.
On Sunday, the day of the reported burning, a delegation of Damascus officials came to Deraa to offer condolences for the dead.
No to emergency law. We are a people infatuated with freedom, marchers chanted at the government delegation, reported Al Jazeera.
The civil disturbances in Syria would have been unheard of in previous years as the ruling Baath party has tolerated no dissent in the half-century it has ruled the country. However, the turmoil in other Arab states have obviously inspired a new generation of activists in Syria to finally challenge authority.
The center of Deraa is reportedly in the hands of protesters who have managed to convert a mosque into a field hospital. Roads going into the city have been blocked by state security, with military helicopters hovering over the city. In addition, BBC reported, the internet, electricity and most communications are also blocked in Deraa.
A silent protest in Damascus earlier called for the release of political prisoners, leading to the arrest of dozens of people.
Smaller demonstrations have been held in the central city of Homs, and Banias on the coast.
Meanwhile, the government of Assad is seeking to make some small concessions to the protesters – including the planned release of 15 children who had been arrested for spraying revolutionary slogans on walls in Deraa. Assad’s regime also said it will reduce by three months he length of compulsory military service across the country.
Syria has been under emergency laws since 1963.