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Moroccan Police Violently Disperse Pro-Democracy Protests

An injured women lies in the street in Casablanca after Moroccan police officers chased demonstrators during a protest organized by the 20th February, the Moroccan Arab Spring movement in Casablanca, Morocco, Sunday May 29, 2011.

Club-wielding Moroccan police have charged into a crowd of thousands of pro-democracy activists in the country's largest city to break up an anti-government protest, wounding about two dozen people.

Organizers said heavily armored riot police blocked streets around Casablanca's Sbata district Sunday, sending squads of officers into the crowd from various directions to disperse the protest.

Police also violently disrupted demonstrations in other Moroccan cities Sunday.

The protests, which government officials said had not been authorized, were organized by the pro-democracy February 20 Movement.

The organization is named for the date earlier this year of the first major public demonstration demanding political and constitutional reforms, including limits to the powers of King Mohammed VI.

The king responded to those initial protests by announcing in March that he would amend the constitution to allow greater democracy and more judicial independence - two key demands of the protesters.

His speech was widely praised at the time, but since then critics have begun to speak out against the use of force, particularly against young people involved with the February 20 Movement.