Catalan referendum: Clashes as voters defy Madrid
Catalonia’s independence referendum has begun in chaotic fashion, with clashes occurring as police attempt to prevent the vote from taking place.
The Spanish government has pledged to stop a poll that was declared illegal by the country’s constitutional court. Police officers are preventing people from voting, and seizing ballot papers and boxes at polling stations.
In the regional capital Barcelona, witnesses said police had fired rubber bullets during pro-referendum protests.
Thirty-eight people have been injured, most of them lightly, say Catalan emergency services.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont condemned the action of federal police.
“The unjustified use of violence… by the Spanish state will not stop the will of the Catalan people,” he told reporters.
The ballot papers contain just one question: “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?” There are two boxes: Yes or No.
Ahead of the polls opening, the Catalan government said voters could print off their own ballot papers and use any polling station if their designated voting place was shut.
In the town of Girona, riot police smashed their way into a polling station where Mr Puigdemont was due to vote.
Television footage showed them breaking the glass of the sports centre’s entrance door and forcibly removing those attempting to vote.
However, Mr Puigdemont was still able to cast his ballot at another polling station. Read more
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