İrem UZUN -TDO- More than 100 people were detained by Belarusian security forces in Minsk on October 11 in what observers said was the most violent crackdown in weeks against protesters demanding an end to the authoritarian rule of Alexander Lukashenka.

Footage published by local news outlets showed police officers wearing black balaclavas dragging protesters into unmarked black vans and beating protesters with their batons at a rally that drew thousands onto the streets of the capital Minsk. Police used water cannons, stun grenades, and tear gas to disperse crowds in central Minsk after blocking central streets and closing metro stations.  Some 150 people, including 20 journalists, were detained, according to the human rights organization Vyasna.

Russia's Interfax news agency reported that around 50 people had been detained and that police had used stun grenades to dispel demonstrators.  Sunday's violence followed a meeting Lukashenko held on Saturday (October 10) in a Minsk jail with detained opposition leaders, an unusual event that prompted some opposition activists to believe he was preparing to make concessions. 

"In Minsk, water cannon and stun grenades were used," interior ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova said. Protesters are still gathering to call for an end to the regime of the Lukashenko, who claimed victory in the recent presidential election in August.  Neither the EU nor the U.S. recognized Lukashenko's inauguration for a sixth term, saying the polls were not free and fair and condemning alleged abuse and torture of detained protesters.

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