HAVANA - Cuban authorities detained about 70 members of the dissident group Ladies in White over the weekend, including 18 who staged its weekly Sunday march in the Cuban capital.

The 18 women, dressed in their customary white clothing, were rounded up and taken away in buses after they left their permitted route through Havana's Miramar neighborhood, a Reuters cameraman on the scene said.

Ladies in White member Magaly Norvis Otero Suarez told Reuters that 16 of the women were arrested Saturday evening when they attempted to stage a march in central Havana and another 36 were detained Sunday morning as they prepared to go to Mass at Santa Rita Catholic Church, then stage their silent march along 5th Avenue, Miramar's main boulevard.

They had gathered at the home of their deceased leader, Laura Pollan, over the weekend to commemorate the anniversary of the 2003 arrest of 75 government opponents that gave rise to the organization, Otero said.

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