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New law stops gore at Spanish bull-spearing festival

Posted September 13

— A small group of local people and anti-bullfighting activists scuffled and exchanged insults Tuesday at a centuries-old Spanish festival where for the first time in its history the gory killing of a bull was banned, and the beast was unharmed.

Mounted police intervened before hundreds of people ran alongside a lone bull and taunted it in the town of Tordesillas 200 kilometers (120 miles) northwest of Madrid.

One unidentified woman protesting against the festival told reporters she was hit twice on the back with a stick by one of the event's supporters. Local media reported that punches were thrown and some antagonists wrestled.

Men on horseback and on foot have traditionally chased the bull across fields and through forests before spearing it to death in an open field before thousands of onlookers in what was one of Spain's goriest spectacles. Organizers say the tradition dates from the 14th century.

But amid increasing protests by animal rights activists, the regional government last year banned the killing of bulls at town festivals, though traditional bullfights in bullrings were not affected.

A heavy police presence ensured the bull was spared from spearing, and a heavy rain cut short the event by about 15 minutes.

As usual, the bull was run out of Tordesillas, across a bridge and into open country — a distance of some 2 kilometers (1.2 miles).

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