Police in Belarus fired warning shots into the air and detained protesters in Minsk, Sunday November 1.

Thousands began to march in the capital Minsk to demand veteran leader Alexander Lukashenko leave power.

Security forces have detained more than 200 people in the latest anti-government protest fueled by a disputed presidential election 12 weeks ago.

Four journalists were among those detained, and two of them were “severely beaten,” said Boris Goretsky of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, according to RFE/RL’s Belarus Service.

Columns of security trucks and buses to hold detainees could be seen around the city as people marched toward a well-known monument to victims of Soviet-era repression outside the capital.

Protesters were targeted with flash-bang grenades, and law enforcement used tear gas and batons to try to disperse the crowds.

Authorities acknowledged that police officers also fired warning shots into the air during the demonstration in Minsk.

These were "necessary measures to maintain order in the capital and ensure public safety during an unauthorized mass event," a statement of the Minsk City Executive Committee quoted by Interfax-Zapad said.

Most of the country’s opposition leaders have been arrested or forced to leave the country, including presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who has said the vote was rigged in Lukashenko's favor and considers herself the rightful winner. She left Belarus for Lithuania after the vote amid threats to her and her family.

Tsikhanouskaya has urged a "national strike" since Oct. 26 that has been met with security sweeps and more brutal moves against dissenters.

The opposition had set a deadline of midnight Oct. 25 for Lukashenko — who has been president for 26 years — to leave.