Anti-riot police block off major Madrid square

18th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spanish anti-riot police blocked off a major Madrid square Thursday after about 100 activists gathered to protest a visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

Some 100 police sealed off roads leading to the central Puerta del Sol square as the demonstrators huddled in the centre.

An underground railway station in the square was closed.

The square, birthplace of Spain's widespread "indignant" protests over the handling of an economic crisis, was the scene of clashes the previous night between activists and police.

Thousands of anti-papal protesters and hundreds of young Roman Catholics had hurled insults at each other in the square on Wednesday night.

Police later dispersed the activists with batons and made seven arrests. Eleven people were reported slightly injured.

The protesters were venting their anger over the expense of the pope's visit and World Youth Day celebrations at a time of belt-tightening and massive unemployment.

© 2011 AFP

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