Catalan independence referendum: Police clash with voters leaving at least 700 injured

Spain’s national police start seizing ballot boxes and voting papers from Catalan polling stations
Catalan independence referendum

Spanish police have clashed with voters as thousands of people flocked to the polls to vote in the Catalonia independence referendum.

There are reports that as many as 761 people were hurt as officers deployed by the Madrid government fired rubber bullets and used riot equipment on defiant crowds.

Riot police smashed their way into a polling station in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the region’s president voting in the banned ballot.

Civil Guard officers with shields used a hammer to smash the glass of the front door of the voting centre and lock-cutters to force their way in.

Scuffles erupted outside between police and people waiting to vote at the polling centre in Sant Julia de Ramis.

Police also clashed with voters outside a Barcelona voting station, where dozens of police used riot shields to push people back, a witness told Reuters.

People waiting to vote chanted “we are people of peace” and “we are not afraid”.

It comes after a number of arrests in recent weeks of local government figures. Police also confiscated millions of ballot papers and sealed off hundreds of polling stations.

 

Spain’s constitutional court has ruled the referendum is at odds with the country’s constitution, and any result will have no legal status.

The main civic group behind Catalonia’s push for independence says a turnout of 1 million voters – less than a fifth of the electorate – would make the region’s secession referendum an “overwhelming success” given the Spanish government’s crackdown.

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