As protests over Sunday's disputed presidential election continue to sweep Belarus, police have admitted using live fire on protesters. Police say officers used firearms Tuesday night to protect themselves from a "group of aggressive citizens with metal rods in their hands," the BBC reports. At least one person was injured. Two others have been killed during a harsh crackdown on protests, including a 25-year-old man who died after been arrested and placed in a police van in Gomel. His mother says he was beaten to death and police have refused to allow her to see the body. Authorities say almost 7,000 people have been detained this week amid the biggest protests since President Alexander Lukashenko came to power in 1994, the Guardian reports.
Protesters accuse Lukashenko, known as "Europe's last dictator," of rigging the election. Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya fled the country after filing an official complaint about results that showed her receiving 10% of the vote, compared to 80% for Lukashenko. Hundreds of protesters were on the streets of the capital, Minsk, on Thursday, with groups of women forming "lines of solidarity," the AP reports. Some carried photos of detained loved ones. "Belarusians have seen the villainous face of this government. I argued with my husband and voted for Lukashenko. And this is what I got in the end—I can't find my relatives in prisons,” says Valentina Chailytko, 49, who hasn't been able to find her husband and son since they were detained Sunday. (Read more Belarus stories.)