Spanish crackdown provokes Catalans to seek independence: Pundit

Protests in Catalonia over crackdown on banned independence vote

Protests in Catalonia over crackdown on banned independence vote

Spain will deploy police reinforcements to Catalonia to maintain order and take action if a referendum on independence pledged by the Catalan government but deemed illegal by Spain takes place, officials have said.

Police say the cell had acquired at least 100 kilograms of highly explosive acetone peroxide (TATP) and planned to fill vans with it in order to blow up various important landmarks in Barcelona.

They also arrested 14 organizers of the vote, including several top Catalan government officials.

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Spain's post-dictatorship constitution only allows the central government to call a referendum on secession and establishes that all Spaniards must have a say in a vote on the country's sovereignty.

A demonstrator holds up a banner reading "We vote to be free" as she tries with others to stop the vehicle carrying Xavier Puig, a senior official of the Catalan government, after he was arrested by Guardia Civil officers in Barcelona, Sept. 20. The next day, the Constitutional Court accepted the lawsuit for review, thus suspending the Catalan law on referendum. In addition, the finance ministry seized control of the local finance department amid fears that Catalan officials were using Spanish tax dollars to finance the ballot.

NAIJ.com earlier reported that hundreds of thousands of Catalans rallied on Monday, September 11, to demand their region's secession from Spain, in a show of strength three weeks ahead of an independence referendum which has been banned by Madrid.

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Around 40,000 people protested outside the Catalan economy ministry in Barcelona as police raided the building and arrested the regional economy minister, Josep Maria Jové.

The growing police presence and aggressive crackdowns are fueling mounting protests among the Catalan population, with thousands taking to the streets of Barcelona, and dock workers refusing to provide services to the police staying on the ferries.

The Catalan National Assembly civic group has called for the protests to continue until the regional officials are released.

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Student union representatives are calling for protesters to remain over the weekend to support for the vote. The region has about 5.5 million eligible voters.

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