Catalonia independence referendum: Police and voters hurt as Madrid tries to stop 'illegal' vote

Natasha Salmon
Sunday 01 October 2017 11:05
Comments
Catalonians get thrown to the ground by riot police in scuffles over referendum

Dozens of people have been hurt as Spanish police tried to stop millions of people voting in a referendum on independence in the region of Catalonia.

Rubber bullets were fired in Barcelona, the region's capital, and police seized ballot boxes and smashed their way in to polling stations.

Catalan emergency services said 38 people were hurt, mostly with minor injuries, as a result of police action.

Eleven police officers were also hurt.

Reports said people were forcibly removed from polling stations by baton-wielding police.

Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont accused Spanish authorities of using "unjustified, disproportionate and irresponsible" violence in a crackdown on a Catalan independence referendum on Sunday.

The batons, rubber bullets and violence used by Spanish police to prevent voting in what Spanish authorities have said was an illegal referendum had shown a "dreadful external image of Spain", he added.

Electoral volunteers said they were unable to access census data because web services to polling stations had been cut, providing an obstacle to the casting of votes.

Guillem Castillo, an 18-year-old engineering student volunteering as an electoral official at a Barcelona high school, said technical problems halted the voting shortly after it opened.

Spanish media reported similar problems with internet in polling centres across Catalonia.

Voting was still going ahead at the polling stations lacking internet as people could still vote by paper.

Many people took to social media to condemn the loss of internet and access to the census websites, including Julian Assange.

More than five million people have been invited to take part in the independence referendum by the regional Catalan government despite it being deemed 'illegal' by the Spanish central government and courts.

The ballot papers contain one question: "Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?" with two boxes: Yes or No.

Regional separatist leaders have promised to declare independence if the "yes" side wins, and have called on all 5.3 million eligible voters to cast ballots.

The Spanish government's top official in Catalonia says that security forces were acting "professionally" to enforce a judicial decision to halt a banned referendum on the region's secession from Spain.

Enric Millo, the central government's delegate in the northeastern region, has thanked the National Police and Civil Guard forces for their efforts to "oversee safety of all Catalans and for guaranteeing their rights."

Mr Millo said that "today's events in Catalonia can never be portrayed as a referendum or anything similar."

Agencies contributed to this report

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in