SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) _ Dominican soldiers and riot police patrolled Santo Domingo's deserted streets Tuesday during a nationwide general strike over higher gasoline prices.

Police rounded up more than 1,000 union leaders, political and community activists throughout the Caribbean nation to prevent demonstrations and possible violence during the strike, according to the Popular Organizations Collective, the umbrella labor group which called the strike.

Police refused to say how many were in custody.

In Santo Domingo, the capital, most workers and students stayed home to avoid trouble. Civil servants showed up for work, as ordered by the government. Officials dispatched 600 buses into the streets to try to offset cancellations of privately-run bus and van service.

The Popular Organizations Collective demanded that the government reverse gasoline price increases of between 15 percent to 25 percent.

President Leonel Fernandez said the increases, which took effect Friday, were needed to service the Caribbean nation's $4 billion foreign debt.

Anticipating possible violence, Miguel de la Cruz Soto closed his shop in the poor Santo Domingo neighborhood of Capotillo, where riots have erupted during previous general strikes.

``I support the strike because of the high cost of fuel,'' said de la Cruz Soto. ``But I'm also closed because I don't want any damage to my store.''

Those who did open for business found it was hardly worth the effort.

``There's very few people buying,'' said a disgruntled Librado Varahona as he tried to sell fruit from a street stand.

Under the price hikes, regular-grade gasoline rose from $1.46 to $1.75 per gallon.