Clashes in Barcelona on margins of general strike

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Leftist demonstrators clashed with police and set fire to a police car and rubbish bins in Barcelona on Wednesday on the margins of a nationwide general strike, an AFP photographer said.

There were no injuries in the incidents, which took place in a square in the centre of the northeastern city, the capital of the Catalonia region, the photographer said.

Police also dispersed or arrested a number of the so-called "anti-system" leftist protesters who had occupied a banking building in the Plaza Cataluna 48 hours earlier.

A spokesman for the Catalan police said the operation in the Plaza Cataluna was continuing.

He said 23 people were arrested in connection with the strike or the leftist protest in the whole of the region.

In a statement, the UGT union in Catalonia condemned "violence and riots that took place this afternoon in the (Barcelona) city center, caused by a minority that have nothing to do with the convening of the union's general strike."

Spanish unions launched a 24-hour nationwide general strike Wednesday to protest the socialist government's tough labour reforms and austerity measures aimed slashing unemployment and reviving the battered economy.

© 2010 AFP

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