Minsk - Belarusian riot police charged thousands of anti- government demonstrators on Sunday evening, clearing them from a key central square in Minsk.
The assault came in response to protestors attempting to break into the Central Election Commission and other government buildings, in the wake of an election apparently won by incumbent President Aleksander Lukashenko.
Opposition leaders were being arrested, and younger protestors put to flight as police used clubs to disperse the crowd, according to an Interfax report.
It was the first substantial use of force by police on Sunday. More than 20,000 anti-government demonstrators had gathered in the capital's centre by early evening to rally against Lukashenko's victory, which they said was a result of election fraud.
Lukashenko had warned in the run-up to the vote that public gatherings were banned on election day, and said he would not hesitate to send police to break up 'illegal' rallies.