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By Silvio Castellanos

BUNOL, Spain (Reuters) - More than 20,000 revellers threw 160 tonnes of over-ripe tomatoes at each other in Spain on Wednesday in an epic, annual food fight known as the "Tomatina".

Amid higher security measures after the recent Islamist attacks in Catalonia, partygoers from Spain and abroad gathered for the messy battle in the town of Bunol in eastern Spain, held every year on the last Wednesday of August.

Revellers crammed the narrow streets of Bunol to smear each other with squashed tomatoes.

Security at the event - including police and local safety personnel - was stepped up after militant attacks in Catalonia earlier this month killed 16 people, the Civil Guard said.

Most of those were killed when a jihadist in a van mowed down crowds on Barcelona's famous Las Ramblas boulevard.

Similar measures will be taken at many Spanish national festivals, a spokeswoman for the Civil Guard said.

"I'm not really that worried," said one Tomatina reveller, Tess Papadopoulos, from Australia. "There's lots of security around so I feel really safe."

The Tomatina is said to have originated from a spontaneous bust-up between locals in 1945, and has since drawn a huge following across the globe.

(Additional reporting and writing by Emily Lupton; editing by Jesús Aguado and Mark Heinrich)

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Reuters