Political arrests spike in Cuba: rights group

A Cuba human rights group reported Wednesday that politically motivated arrests spiked in September on the communist-ruled island, hitting an 18-month high.

The Cuban Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission, which is outlawed but tolerated by the government, said there had been 708 politically motivated arrests during the month.

"We have documented this very high number of arrests of peaceful dissidents, including numerous members of the Ladies in White humanitarian movement," the commission said.

The Ladies in White is a group founded by wives and mothers of political prisoners. They march every Sunday to draw attention to the plight of prisoners and their families.

It was the highest monthly number of such arrests since March 2012 when more than 1,000 dissidents were arrested ahead of a visit to Cuba by then Pope Benedict XVI.

The group has tallied 3,631 politically motivated arrests so far this year, some lasting only a few hours and others a few days.