Muscat: Protests in southern Omani town of Salalah turned violent on Friday evening after army swooped on protesters in three cities and dismantled their tents.

In Salalah, protesters had pitched tents since February 25, but rallies and demonstrations were generally peaceful until Friday.

On Thursday night, army arrested protesters and brought down tents and took away all the paraphernalia.

Some of the citizens arrested on Thursday night were released and on Friday they started gathering outside the Governor’s Building in new Salalah area where army had taken position with about dozen armoured vehicles.

Late in the evening, the numbers swelled and, according to witnesses, as darkness thickened stones were pelted. "As tension grew and protesters refused to go away, the security agencies started firing tear-gas shells,” a resident of Salalah told Gulf News.

He said that the security agencies even fired in the air to drive away increasing number of protesters.

Internet services have been cut off in sensitive southern region, which had seen revolt in the late sixties and early seventies.

“We have no internet service since last night and even all phone connections – land line as well as mobile service – are not working for almost three hours last night,” a long-time Salalah resident told Gulf News.