A group of dissidents that includes Guillermo Fariñas and Jorge Luis Garcia is being held in custody at a police station in the central city of Santa Clara, according to family members and the internal opposition.

Fariñas, a psychologist and director of the independent agency Cubanacan Press, was arrested around noon on Thursday in the street together with 11 other dissidents as they were headed toward the police unit where Garcia - known as "Antunez" - and another three opposition members are being held, in order to request their release, the spokesman for the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Elizardo Sanchez, said.

Alicia Hernandez, Fariñas's mother, confirmed to Efe by telephone from her home in Santa Clara, 270 kilometers (168 miles) east of Havana, that her son was being detained at that police station.

"We're waiting to see what happens," said Hernandez, who gave and account of her son's arrest similar to that of Sanchez.

According to the commission's spokesman, Garcia was seized Wednesday in the town of Placetas near Santa Clara, the city where he lives, together with another five people staging a street demonstration.

Other dissident sources said that Garcia and his companions were carrying out a "silent march" down a street in Placetas when they were detained by police.

According to Sanchez, two of Garcia's companions were freed, but he and another three dissidents identified as Idania Yanez, Iris Perez and Alcides Rivera, were taken to the Santa Clara police lockup.

"It looks like it should be brief detention of a few hours or a few days, as has been happening in recent months," he said.

He also said that up to now 13 opposition members have been arrested in Santa Clara, though he received reports Thursday of other detentions in the eastern province of Holguin.

In February last year, after jailed dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo died following an 85-day fast, Sakharov Prize recipient Fariñas went on a lengthy hunger strike - one of more than a score he has staged over the past 15 years - to demand the release of the most ill political prisoners.

And in March 2009, Cuban dissident Jorge Luis Garcia was hospitalized for 24 hours a month into his hunger strike, but when released he said he planned to continue his protest.

Cuba's government denies holding political prisoners and says its political opponents are mercenaries working with Washington to undermine the island's communist system.