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Bulgarian lawmakers trapped as anti-corruption protesters besiege parliament

Protesters clash with riot police during an anti-government protest in front of the parliament building in Sofia, Bulgaria, on July 23, 2013. Anti-government protests in Bulgaria's capital have been going on for 40 days, and escalated on Tuesday evening as several hundred demonstrators trapped 109 people — including three ministers, some 30 lawmakers and their staff — inside parliament. Georgi Kozhuharov / AP
A woman holds a candle during an anti-government protest in Sofia on July 23. Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP - Getty Images

More than 100 Bulgarian lawmakers, ministers and journalists spent the night besieged inside parliament by anti-corruption protesters before police helped them to escape early on Wednesday.

A political crisis that began over utility price rises and spread to accusations that private interests control state institutions has caused months of protests in the ex-communist state, which joined the European Union in 2007 but has struggled to live up to its governance standards.

Lawmakers were escorted out of the building in police vans at around 3 a.m., more than eight hours after they were trapped inside by protesters shouting "Mafia!" and "Resign!" who tore up paving stones and piled up garbage for makeshift barricades. Read the full story.

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A protester lies in a coffin in front of riot policemen making way for lawmakers and parliament staff leaving the parliament building early on July 24. Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP - Getty Images
A woman takes part in an anti-government protest in Sofia on July 23. Several thousand protesters cordoned off the parliament building early on Tuesday evening, preventing 109 ministers, lawmakers and other officials from leaving after budget revision discussions. Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP - Getty Images
Riot policemen make way for lawmakers and parliament staff driven in a bus during an anti-government protest on July 23. Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP - Getty Images