As many as six people were killed by Syrian forces in a mosque in the city of Deraa, a flash point in the unfolding struggle against the Baath party despotism, media reports said on Wednesday.

Security forces cut off electricity and telephone services to the mosque before they launched the attack, which happened after midnight, Reuters reported, quoting residents.

The bloody new episode of violence in Deraa has cast limelight on president Bashar Al-Assad's heavy-handed reprisal of anti-government agitation in the country.

The government, however, denied the killing was done by security forces, saying armed gangs were involved in the violence. An armed gang after midnight attacked a medical team in an ambulance at the Omari mosque, killing a doctor, a paramedic and the driver, the official news agency said.

The SANA news agency said a member of the security force was also killed. However, AFP too quoted a rights activist as saying that five people were killed and scores were wounded as security forces fired on anti-regime protesters near the mosque.

The recent spate of protests, which took inspiration from similar movements in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, has leveled the most serious challenge to the Assad clan's grip on power since 1963. Syria has been under an emergency law since the time Bashar's father, Hafez al-Assad took power leading the Baathist party. Thousands of people have disappeared over the decades as the regime sought to suppress all dissent.