Thousands of people turned out Saturday for the funerals of anti-government protesters killed in unrest in Syria. Syrian rights groups say at least 63 people died Friday as protesters continued to demand the departure of President Bashar al-Assad.

Those groups say the vast majority of deaths were reported in Hama, a city about 300 kilometers north of Damascus. Witnesses say security forces used live ammunition to try to disperse tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets in Hama after Friday prayers.

Demonstrations also took place in Damascus and other cities, following a call by opposition groups to denounce a growing number of casualties among children in recent weeks of the uprising against Assad.

Despite official denials, protest organizers say at least 25 children have died. The victims include a 13-year-old boy who was reported to have been tortured and killed by security forces – an accusation that Syrian authorities dispute.

Meanwhile, rights groups say Syrian authorities have freed Ali Abdullah, a prominent activist who was jailed for at least three years. The groups say Abdullah walked free on Saturday.  Authorities have freed hundreds of political prisoners since President Saleh announced a general amnesty on Tuesday in an apparent bid to appease opposition protesters.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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