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Georgian Opposition, Police Clash In Tbilisi

TBILISI (Reuters) -- Dozens of opposition supporters in Georgia have clashed with police at the main police station in the capital, Tbilisi.

Television pictures showed police and protesters striking each other with batons and sticks across a metal gate dividing them. An Interior Ministry spokesman said protesters had tried to enter the police compound.

Tbilisi had been braced for possible confrontation between police and protesters who have been blocking streets since April 9, demanding the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili over his record on democracy and last year's disastrous war with giant neighbor Russia.

The opposition said protest leader Giorgi Gachechiladze had been detained and several other opposition leaders had been beaten. The police said the protesters had been throwing stones and sticks at them.

Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili denied Gachechiladze had been arrested, but said he had climbed over the gate into the police compound and was still there.

The protesters marched to the police station, demanding the release of three activists arrested on May 6 over the alleged beating of a journalist at the public broadcaster in Tbilisi.

"We know that they were trying to enter the police compound and wanted to release their activists from the cells," Utiashvili said.