KATMANDU, Nepal — Police detained more than 600 female Tibetan protesters, including many Buddhist nuns, on Sunday after breaking up several demonstrations against China's recent crackdown in Tibet.

It was the largest number of protesters detained on a single day since Tibetan exiles began almost daily protests in March against Chinese policies in Tibet and the first time that only women demonstrated.

The protesters held three separate rallies in Katmandu but were quickly stopped by police. More than 600 protesters were being held in detention centers in Katmandu, said police official R.P. Dhamala.

The first group was stopped even before they could enter a street from an open area where they had gathered.

"Just to create what is happening in Tibet we wanted to do a silent march here, a peaceful silent march," said Doma Tsomo, who was among the protesters. "Unfortunately even before we could start police started arresting people."

A second group managed to enter the street but was quickly stopped by police and taken away in buses and trucks. The third group, which was smaller, protested near the Chinese Embassy's visa office and was also detained.

Detained protesters are generally freed by police later in the day.

Nepal's police have broken up almost all anti-China protests by Tibetan exiles during the past several weeks and detained participants. Officials say they will not allow protests that could harm Nepal's friendly relations with neighboring China.

The Tibetan exiles have mainly been protesting in front of the United Nations offices and the Chinese Embassy in Katmandu.

Security has been stepped up around the embassy since the protests began, with hundreds of police posted on the streets leading to the building.

The United Nations and international rights groups have criticized Nepal for using what they say is excessive force to stop the protests. Police have beaten people with batons and dragged them through the streets while detaining them.