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Hundreds injured in Romania protests

Hundreds injured in Romania protests
Riot police spray teargas while scuffling with protesters outside the government headquarters in Bucharest.
Bucharest, Aug 11 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 8/11/2018 12:39:21 PM IST

Tens of thousands of protesters rallied against the ruling Social Democrat (PSD) government on Friday in cities across Romania and the capital Bucharest where riot police fired tear gas into the crowd and hundreds needed medical attention.

The protests were organised and promoted by groups of Romanians working abroad, angry at what they say is entrenched corruption, low wages and attempts by the PSD to weaken the judiciary in one of the European Union’s most corrupt states.

In Bucharest, some protesters attempted to force their way through security lines guarding the government building. Others threw bottles and rocks at riot police, who said groups of “provocateurs” were present in the square. As the protest continued well into the night, riot police used a water canon and increasingly sprayed tear gas into the crowd. Video footage posted on social media show police beating non-violent protesters holding their hands up.

More than 400 people required medical assistance, the emergency intervention agency ISU said, including two riot police who got separated from their unit. Tens of thousands staged peaceful protests in other Romanian cities.

Centrist Romanian President Klaus Iohannis condemned the police’s disproportionate use of force.

Among the crowds in Bucharest were truck driver Daniel Ostafi (42), who moved to Italy 15 years ago in search of a future he says Romania could not offer his family, and Mihai Podut (27), a construction worker who left in 2014, first for France and later Germany.

They joined tens of thousands outside government headquarters in scorching temperatures, waving Romanian and European Union flags and demanding the cabinet’s resignation.

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