A woman who was waiting for a bus according to eye witnesses, lies on the ground injured inside the bus shelter after getting caught up in disturbances in Valencia, Spain, Monday Feb. 20, 2012 during a protest. The students are protesting government cuts in education. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Valencia- Baton-wielding riot police charged, beat and arrested several demonstrators at a student protest against spending cuts in the Spanish city of Valencia on Monday, reporters at the scene said.

The clashes broke out in the mid-afternoon after students protesting against education budget cuts, which they say have left classrooms without heating, demonstrated outside a school and came up against police barricades.

Photographs and videos from the scene showed youths with bleeding faces and baton-wielding police in helmets and body armour chasing, beating and dragging people along the ground as the street clashes continued after nightfall.

Valencia regional police chief Antonio Moreno said police used “proportionate physical force”, in comments to reporters broadcast on Spanish radio. “Greater aggression requires a proportionate response,” he said.

A Valencia police spokesman confirmed that arrests had been made, but could not confirm how many.

“There were demonstrators acting aggressively and so there were arrests,” the spokesman said, adding that police acted to “restore order”.

Spanish media reported between 14 and 21 arrests, including several minors.

Valencia police spokesmen were not available on Monday night to confirm details of the arrests.

Similar skirmishes broke out in Valencia last week during student protests, part of a series of demonstrations across Spain against government measures including spending cuts that are hitting public services.

The opposition Socialists issued a demand on Monday for the interior minister and chief of police to address parliament to explain what the party called the “heavy-handed repression” of last week’s protests.

A few dozen youths protested outside the education ministry in Madrid in sympathy with the Valencia demonstrators on Monday night, a photographer at the scene said. No incidents were reported at that gathering. – Sapa-AFP