US-based rights group calls for probe of Palestinian police beatings of protesters

A leading human rights group has asked the Palestinian government to investigate alleged police beatings of protesters who were demonstrating against the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Human Rights Watch quotes witnesses as saying police prevented the protesters from approaching President Mahmoud Abbas' compound in the West Bank during a rally there on Sunday. Israeli-Palestinian talks were launched in Washington the following day.

The New York-based group says protesters threw sticks and stones at the police who beat them with batons with "apparent excessive force."

The group says the police later arrested three of the demonstrators at a hospital where they were being treated for injuries. One policeman was apparently also treated there.

Palestinian police spokesman Adnan Damiri said Wednesday that demonstrators attacked police, and that police acted in self-defense.