DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Thousands of mourners at a funeral for a Syrian killed in anti-government protests burnt a ruling Baath party building and a police station on Saturday as authorities freed 260 prisoners in a bid to placate reformists. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was facing the deepest crisis of his 11 years in power after security forces fired on protesters on Friday in the city of Deraa, adding to a death toll that rights groups have said now numbers in the dozens. Hundreds gathered in the southern citys main square on Saturday chanting for freedom. Three young men climbed on the rubble of a statue of late President Hafez al-Assad which protesters had pulled down on Friday in a scene that recalled the toppling of Saddam Husseins statue in Iraq in 2003 by US troops. The men had cardboard signs reading the people want the downfall of the regime, a witness said. In nearby Tafas, mourners in the funeral procession of Kamal Baradan, who was killed on Friday in Deraa, set fire to the Baath party building and the police station, residents said. A human rights lawyer said that 260 prisoners, mostly Islamists, were freed after completing at least three-quarters of their sentences. Protesters have been demanding the freeing of political prisoners and the lifting of emergency law. Dozens of people have been killed over the past week around Deraa, medical officials said. There were reports of more than 20 new deaths on Friday. Such demonstrations would have been unthinkable a couple of months ago in this most tightly controlled of Arab countries. The funerals of several protesters killed in Deraa on Friday took place in nearby villages on Saturday, residents said. It was unclear, however, how many had been killed. Several thousand mourners prayed on Saturday over the body of 13-year-old Seeta al-Akrad in Deraas Omari mosque, scene of an attack by security forces earlier in the week, and then marched over to a nearby cemetery in the old quarter. Security forces were not in evidence at the procession, in which mourners chanted the people want the downfall of the regime, a refrain heard in uprisings across the Arab world from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen. Emboldened by the lack of security, the mourners also chanted strike, strike, until the regime falls. Abu Jassem, a Deraa resident, said: We were under a lot of pressure from the oppressive authority, now when you pass by (security forces), nobody utters a word. They dont dare talk to the people. The people have no fear anymore. The unrest in Syria came to a head after police detained more than a dozen schoolchildren for scrawling graffiti inspired by slogans used by other pro-democracy demonstrators abroad. Amnesty International put the death toll in and around Deraa in the past week at 55 at least. There was a chorus of international condemnation of the shootings of demonstrators. But analysts said foreign nations were likely to tread carefully around Syria, which has a close alliance with Iran and links to Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas and Lebanese Shiite political and military group Hezbollah.