PICS: Activists call for end to bloody Pamplona running of the bulls

Pamplona — A man from Valencia died Saturday after being gored in a late-night bull run near the southern Spanish town of Alicante, while two men were gored and 12 others injured in the more popular morning bull-run race in Pamplona.

The deadly goring occurred about 01:00 in the morning during festivities involving female cattle in the small village of Pedreguera. The Red Cross said a heifer gored the 29-year-old man through the thorax and abdomen. He was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead an hour later.

The town suspended all bull-related festivities for the day.

At the famed San Fermin festival, the bull run was unusually long Saturday, with one bull left stranded at the starting gate, where he proceeded to charge and strike a couple of runners. Many other participants fell and were stampeded by the head of the pack in the 850-metre race.

Another of the six bulls in the run got separated from the pack, did a U-turn and gored a nearby runner, lifting his body off the ground and flipping him over.

A government statement said a 33-year-old Japanese man and a 24-year-old Spaniard were gored. The Navarra hospital confirmed the Japanese man had suffered a 15-centimetre thorax wound and was still under observation, while the local man was gored in his right arm. Both were considered to be in fair condition.

The regional government said a dozen others were also taken to city hospitals for trauma care, including a 37-year-old from Barcelona and another 33-year-old Japanese man.

WATCH: Spanish Matador gored to death by a bull (Not for sensitive viewers):

More than 1 000 people took part in the Pamplona run, which lasted just over four minutes, about 1 ½ times longer than usual.

Bull runs are a traditional part of summer festivals across Spain. The nine-day San Fermin fiesta became world famous with Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" and attracts thousands of foreign tourists each year.

Ten people, including four Americans, were gored at the San Fermin festival last year. In all, 15 people have died from gorings at the festival since record-keeping began in 1924.

While the running of the bulls remains a massive tourist attraction, activists are calling for the activity to stop. Over the weekend, protesters denounced the "cruel, violent and bloody" act by pouring 75 red buckets filled with fake blood over their bodies in Pamplona’s main square, a day before the city’s San Fermin festival. 

The protest, co-organized by PETA and the Spanish animal rights group AnimaNaturalis, aims to raise awareness about the “cruelty and torture” involved in the annual festivities, AnimaNaturalis director Aida Gascón told Spanish news agency Europa Press. Fifty-four bulls typically die during the festival.

According to PETA, activists from Australia, Sweden, Russia and the UK joined Spaniards in the graphic protest against bullfighting — a longtime and controversial tradition in Spain. 

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