Belarusian authorities said Wednesday that police had opened fire on protestors in the city of Brest.
In a statement, the country's Interior Ministry accused the protesters of attacking police with rebar rods, provoking them to open fire. Security forces responded with warning shots, but these failed to stop them, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on the clashes that took place Tuesday night.
One of the protestors was wounded in the gunfire, it said.
Before being changed later, the statement had said that the security forces had used "firearms," which implies that live rounds were used as opposed to rubber bullets. It was later edited to say "arms" were used instead, a broader term that allows for rubber as well.
The protest rallies against Sunday's election results spread to 25 Belarusian cities on Tuesday, with the most massive gatherings in the capital Minsk, as well as Brest, Mogilev and Novopolotsk, ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova told reporters.
There were incidents of "open confrontation" with the law enforcement and 21 officers became victims of eight hit-and-runs and numerous fire bottles attacks, she added.
In Minsk, 400 people blocked traffic on one of the main transport arteries for about half an hour.
Seventeen criminal cases were opened following alleged attacks on law enforcement and more than 2,000 more people were detained during the manifestations over the past day, pushing the total number of arrests to over 5,000.
According to the Health Ministry, 51 people were hospitalized last night with injuries of average gravity.
The Belarusian authorities assess the damage caused by the demonstrators in the amount of 500,000 Belarusian rubles ($202,570), she said.
Earlier, the Interior Ministry claimed it arrested "three organizers of protests", including the head of the group.
The protests broke out in Belarus after incumbent Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner in the presidential elections.
Several opposition candidates have challenged the election results.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who came second in the presidential race, has left the country amid rumors that she was forced to do it.
The situation in Belarus provoked deep concern throughout Europe with the leaders demanding Lukashenko to launch an open dialogue with the opposition.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.