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Spain Riots: Protesters Clash With Police In Madrid Over Austerity Measures (VIDEO, PICTURES)

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Thousands of protesters clashed violently with riot police in Madrid on Tuesday over the announcement of severe austerity measures.

Demonstrators besieged the Parliament building on Neptune plaza, which was guarded by around 1,500 police.

But things turned ugly and scuffles broke out as police tried to keep the entrances clear. Video footage uploaded to YouTube shows riot police hitting protesters with truncheons and dragging individuals away.

There are also reports that rubber bullets were fired. Police said 22 arrests were made and over 32 injured.

The demonstration was organised in response to deeply unpopular austerity measures announced by conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is aiming to cut the budget by 60 million euros (£47m).

Measures that Mr Rajoy wants to implement include restricting early retirement and tax breaks, taxing stock transactions and carbon dioxide emissions and possibly freezing pension benefits.

The Spanish economy is in dire straits with unemployment at nearly 25% and just over 50% among the under-25s, according to the National Institute for Statistics.

Luis Rodriguez, 36, a firefighter who joined the protest, told Reuters: "My annual salary has dropped by 8,000 euros [£6,400] and if it falls much further I won't be able to make ends meet.”

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal Mr Rajoy refused to rule out asking for a bailout.

He said: "At the moment, I cannot tell you."

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