Police fire rubber bullets at protesters in Barcelona plaza
Riot police fired rubber bullets and used truncheons on protesters camped out in Barcelona's Plaza de Catalunya as they tried to clear the square before today's Champions League final in London. After nearly two weeks of peaceful protests, which brought tens of thousands to occupy plazas across Spain, the first violent altercations occurred in the Catalan capital yesterday.
Police equipped in anti-riot gear moved in after protesters blocked cleaning trucks attempting to dismantle the encampment that has been in place since the demonstrations began on May 15.
Some 45 people, including one police officer, were treated for minor injuries after the clash, during which police were seen striking activists with truncheons and firing rubber bullets.
Authorities said they had to clear the square ahead of the Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United. Crowds are expected to gather in the square to watch the match on giant television screens.
"Once the cleaning is finished the protesters can go back, but without the tents, knives and dangerous objects," said a police spokesman in Barcelona.
The demonstrators began gathering on May 15 to register dissent at the country's economic crisis.
The protests swelled ahead of regional elections last Sunday, in which Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriquez Zapatero's socialist party suffered a resounding defeat. (© Daily Telegraph, London)