The government of Zimbabwe has defended crackdown by its security forces following violent protests over sharp rise in fuel prices.

A government spokesman told the BBC that "when things get out of hand, a bit of firmness is needed".

The comment came after Zimbabwe's human rights commission accused the security forces of using systematic torture against protesters in recent days.

In a report issued after visiting various part of country affected by the violence, the commission said opposition activists were subjected to severe beatings.

The report also accused the security forces of letting dogs loose on those they suspected of causing trouble.