Spain protesters clash with police

Protesters hurl bottles at police in latest demonstrations triggered by anger at country's economic crisis.

    Spain protesters clash with police
    Police detained protesters in Madrid after hundreds gathered to call for the government to quit [AFP]

    Twenty-nine people have been injured in clashes between police and protesters in the latest street demonstrations sparked by anger at Spain's economic crisis, emergency services said.

    Around 1,000 protesters massed in front of a police barrier protecting parliament in Madrid on Thursday, calling for
    the government and lawmakers to quit.

    The demonstration coincided with the release of Spain's latest official unemployment figures which showed the jobless rate had surged past 27 percent, with 6.2 million people out of work.

    A group of protesters hurled bottles at the police line and let off firecrackers, prompting riot police with shields and helmets to chase them along nearby avenues, beating some with batons.

    Thirteen of those injured in the clashes were police officers, officials said.

    Before the demonstration started police arrested four members of anarchist groups suspected of plotting to set fire to a bank and 11 people who blocked access to a university.

    Austerity cuts

    Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government was due on Friday to unveil a further package of economic reforms which he wants to have implemented by 2015. Government officials say the plan will tread a fine line between growth and austerity.

    Hundreds of protesters reponded to the call for demonstrators to "Besiege Congress"  [AFP]
     

    But, with millions people unemployed in the country, protesters on Thursday said the increasing austerity cuts were causing unfair suffering to the poor and complain that the political system is stacked against them.

    As well as overseeing a bailout for Spain's banking sector, Rajoy has brought in spending cuts and labour reforms, since his conservative government took office in December 2011.

    He says the steps are needed to fix the public finances and strengthen the economy and will help Spain save $196bn by 2014.

    Rising unemployment in Spain has caused evictions to soar and forced tens of thousands of people to leave in search of work abroad.

    The number of households in which all eligible members are unemployed reached 1.91 million in the first quarter, the statistics office said.

    In neighbouring France, also hit by the financial crisis, unemployment reached its highest rate since 1997, according to data announced on Thursday.

    Around 3.2 million people were out of work in the country, an 11.5 percent annual increase, the French labour ministry said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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