A masked anti-government protester is arrested by police as security forces disrupt an opposition march, coined "United for Freedom," in Managua, Nicaragua, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. Image Credit: AP

Managua: Some 20 protesters were arrested Sunday when Nicaraguan police swooped in to break up a meeting of demonstrators gathering for a protest march against the government of President Daniel Ortega.

Police wielded clubs and hurled stun grenades to break up the demonstrators gathering at a shopping mall parking lot, beating men, women and even some elderly people.

Those arrested were beaten and dragged down the street to be later loaded onto police patrol vehicles.

Some reporters were also beaten and briefly detained, local independent reporters said.

“They respect no one, not even older people or children,” said Azhalea Solis, head of the Civic Alliance, an umbrella group that represents business people, students and social groups.

Police had earlier announced that they would not allow any unauthorized demonstrations.

Hundreds of anti-riot police officers were deployed early in the day to key points of the capital Managua as well as to the highway to the restive city of Masaya.

Government supporters took over city roundabouts where protesters had planned to gather.

Anti-government demonstrations began on April 18, initially protesting changes in the social security system.

Since then the demonstrations have grown in size and the protestors are calling for the resignation of Ortega and his wife and vice president Rosario Murillo.