NICOSIA (AFP) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appointed former agriculture minister Adel Safar the new premier on Sunday and asked him to form a government as thousands joined the funeral procession for protesters killed in Douma. Cell phone and internet networks failed for several hours on Sunday due to an overload, according to a customer representative, a day after authorities carried out a wave of arrests in protest cities. Assad asked Safar to form a new government, the state-run news agency SANA reported Sunday, having sacked his entire cabinet in a bid to quell pro-democracy protests. Meanwhile, Douma, a suburb north of Damascus still reeling from a fatal crackdown by security forces against pro-reform demonstrators, observed a mass funeral with thousands of sympathisers streaming in from neighbouring towns. People are very sad, a resident told AFP as the town buried eight people killed in a crackdown by security forces on Friday. They want to make it up to the families so they are promising more protests. On Friday, thousands of Syrians marched across the country after midday prayers, calling for reforms, disappointed by a presidential speech which failed to lift a state of emergency in place since 1963. Eight human rights groups said 46 people were arrested in raids on the southern town of Daraa, one of thee main centres of more than two weeks of demonstrations, as well as Douma, north of Damascus and the industrial city of Homs. We condemn this extremely violent and unjustified way the Syrian security services dealt with peaceful rallies in Douma where police used excessive force against demonstrators, they said in a joint statement. The rights groups reported that four people died and dozens were wounded in the crackdown. A human rights activist reported eight dead. A witness told AFP security forces used live ammunition to disperse stone-throwing protesters after noon prayers. The authorities denied the security forces were responsible for the deaths, blaming them on an armed group which opened fire from rooftops on both demonstrators and police. They acknowledged an unspecified number of deaths and said dozens were wounded, some of them policemen. Some 200 people demonstrated outside the courthouse in Daraa, a tribal town near the Jordan border, where security forces arrested eight people between a morning raid and a round-up after the protests, an activist told AFP. In Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented 17 arrests while authorities accused another armed group of firing on demonstrators in the industrial city and killing one girl. The rights group demanded the release of all prisoners of conscience and political prisoners, and called for measures to ensure the safety of peaceful protests.