Thousands of people attended Tuesday in this northwestern Spanish city the festival of Toro de la Vega, during which young people spear a bull to death.

The traditional celebration, held the second Tuesday in September, attracted some 40,000 people, according to local authorities.

Minutes before the competition began, the Civil Guard used force to disperse a group of activists who had come from all around Spain, answering the call of anti-bullfighting groups over social networks, and who had gathered at the beginning of the route where a 622-kilo (1,400-pound) bull was to be let loose.

Civil Guard agents surrounded the protesters, and amid exchanges of insults, pushing and shoving, forced them to move away.

The Civil Guard told Efe that no one was arrested, though the protesters had to stay well away from the bull-spearing event.

Tordesillas Mayor Jose Antonio Gonzalez told reporters that the protest organizers had not notified the authorities beforehand about their intentions.

"We were respectful of them, but we were afraid of a conflict," the mayor of this town of less than 10,000 inhabitants said.

He said that no one was injured during the day, though a youth was knocked down by the bull.

The mayor also said that the competition was finally declared null and void because, though one competitor fatally speared the bull in the authorized area, it went to die outside of it, where it took further spear thrusts from two men on horseback.

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