Protest in favor of Catalonia's split from Spain

The mayor of Mollerussa Marc Solsona leaves legal headquarters in Catalonia

The protests were sparked when the Spanish military police, the Guardia Civil, raided Catalan government offices on Wednesday and arrested dozens of officials.

The Catalan government acknowledged Thursday that its plans to hold an independence referendum on October 1 had been dealt a blow by a crackdown by Spanish authorities against the vote which Madrid deems illegal.

The raid came as part of an ongoing police and judicial operation by Spanish authorities to try to halt the referendum called by the pro-independence Catalan government.

Through a communiqué, the club declared that "true to its historical commitment to the country's defense, democracy, freedom of expressuion abd the right to decide, it condemns any ation that may prevent the exercise of these rights". Polling station signs and documents for electoral officers were also seized during a raid on a warehouse in a town outside Barcelona.

After an emergency cabinet meeting Catalan President Carles Puigdemont accused the Madrid government of "de facto" suspending the region's autonomy and imposing a state of emergency. He said: "What we have seen in Catalonia is an attempt to liquidize national sovereignty".

Spain's Finance Ministry says it has imposed further controls of the Catalan government's finances to ensure no public money is used for a planned October 1 vote on the region's independence that Spain says violates the constitution.

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They refused to move as the day wore on, further angered by an announcement by the interior ministry that police had seized "close to 10 million ballot papers" destined for the vote outlawed by the central government.

The others work in various Catalan government departments, including its economic and budget affairs departments, a local Guardia Civil spokesman said.

"It is of course entirely legitimate for Spain to oppose independence for Catalonia, but what I think is of concern anywhere is for a state to seek to deny the right of a people to democratically express their will", Sturgeon told lawmakers.

Last Friday, Montoro gave Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras an ultimatum to call off the referendum or face having funding for essential services in the province taken over by Madrid, according to Reuters. While Catalonia is one of Spain's wealthiest regions, Catalans argue they pay more into the national budget than they get back.

The Catalan parliament, where Puigdemont's coalition has a majority, has been taking legislative steps towards independence for more than a year. The government arrested 14 people, the newspaper reports, and "among the detained, there are high-ranking officials" from the Catalan government, including the region's secretary of the economy and secretary of the treasury. Other, current members of the Catalan government are facing legal action over their roles in the push for independence.

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