"REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Protesters angry over Iceland’s economic meltdown clashed with police today, and at least five people were sent to the hospital with injuries.
Police fired pepper spray at the demonstrators as they tried to storm a police building in the Icelandic capital. The protesters — some of whom threw eggs at police — were demanding the release of a fellow demonstrator held by authorities since Friday.
The confrontation ended, and police calmed the crowd by freeing the man after an unidentified person paid his outstanding fine associated with a previous demonstration, police said.
Today’s protest began with several thousand people in front of Iceland’s parliament, but a few hundred of them then moved to the police building.
There have been many demonstrations in Iceland in recent weeks, as that country has seen its economy fall apart under the weight of the global credit crunch. Iceland’s banking system collapsed in October, and the country’s currency — the krona — has lost half its value since January.
Four Nordic countries and the International Monetary Fund recently pledged a combined $4.6 billion in loans to help Iceland’s economy recover.
The demonstrators blame the government for having failed to adequately oversee the banking industry. Among other things, the protesters have called for early elections. The current government was elected last year and does not need to call elections until 2011."