Spanish riot police charge 'indignant' demonstrators

5th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spanish riot police late Thursday charged hundreds of 'indignant' demonstrators rallying at the interior ministry to protest the closure of Madrid's main square, leaving a number of injured, witnesses said.

It was the most serious incident since the 'indignant' movement began in mid-May against Spain's economic crisis, soaring unemployment and political corruption.

Over 200 police were deployed Thursday for the third straight day to close the Puerta del Sol square and prevent demonstrators from occupying it again.

Hundreds of the demonstrators marched several kilometres across the city Thursday evening to protest the closure, blocking traffic.

Then they reached the interior ministry, on Madrid's main Paseo de Castellano avenue.

"Suddenly about seven or eight police vans arrived," said Jose Manuel, 30, a passerby. Two minutes later, everyone was running" as the police charged, he said, adding that he saw a number of people with head injuries.

The daily El Pais said nine people were injured, two of them with head wounds, and three were arrested.

"I saw a man in his seventies lying in the street with a bloody head wound," said one of the protesters, Luis, 36.

Thousands of people set up camp in the Puerta del Sol square ahead of May 22 municipal elections to protest what they see as government's bowing to financial markets and ignoring the needs of ordinary people.

The vast ramshackle protest 'village' was dismantled on June 12 but members of the nationwide 15-M movement, named after its May 15 launch date, had since staffed a wooden information stand in the square round the clock.

But police cleared dozens of protesters who were camped at the information stand and along the central Paseo del Prado avenue in a dawn operation on Tuesday that resulted in no injuries or arrests.

© 2011 AFP

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