Spanish protesters clash with police in Madrid

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Spanish protesters clash with police in Madrid

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Spanish anti-austerity protesters clashed with police on Friday after taking to the streets to voice their anger at fresh spending cuts.

The demonstrators called on the centre-right government to resign, branding ministers as “thieves” for slashing public sector salaries and hiking taxes.

They accused Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of putting the interests of bankers and big business before those of ordinary working people.

The AFP news agency reported that at least three people had been arrested.

The aim of the latest package of measures is to shave 65 billion euros off Spain’s budget deficit by 2015.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said she understood people’s anger, but she warned there was no alternative to the cuts.

“This is a very difficult situation, not for the government, but for the Spanish people. However, I want to send a message of hope that this is the path to take,” she said.

Ministers also plan to approve deep reforms of the energy and transport sectors to get the economy going again in a country where the unemployment rate stands at 25 percent.