Zimbabwe's main opposition leader has been released from a hospital days after he was allegedly beaten while in police custody.

Morgan Tsvangirai, who had suffered a head injury, left a hospital in the capital city of Harare Friday.

Opposition officials say police beat Tsvangirai and several other activists after breaking up an opposition rally on Sunday.

He had gone to the police station in Harare to check on senior members of his party, the Movement for Democratic Change, who had been detained. The party members said the gathering was a prayer meeting. Authorities called it an outlawed political rally.

Writing in the British newspaper The Independent, Tsvangirai says that "democratic change in Zimbabwe is within sight." He urged the international community to pressure the government of President Robert Mugabe.

Mr. Mugabe defended the crackdown against a barrage of international criticism Thursday, saying his critics can "go hang". He says his government was trying to prevent violence and punish its perpetrators.

Officials in Britain, Australia and the United States are calling for increased sanctions in response to the crackdown, and have threatened to take the issue before the U.N. Human Rights Council. But U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro cautioned against imposing sanctions that might harm innocent citizens.

Zimbabwe's citizens are already coping with an economic crisis marked by food shortages and 1,700 percent inflation.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.