16:08 GMT +315 October 2018
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    A rally outside the Catalan Parliament building in support of Catalan independence declaration

    Thousands Gather for Protests in Barcelona, Clash With Police - Reports

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    Two protests in the Catalan capital are taking place Saturday two days prior to the anniversary of an independence referendum that was held on October 1, 2017, and divided the Spanish region.

    Thousands of people, both supporters and opponents of the Catalan independence, have gathered for two separate rallies in the Catalan capital, thus escalating tensions.

    READ MORE: Catalan President Calls on Madrid to Authorize New Independence Referendum

    After the end of a demonstration in the city center, a group of pro-independence protesters, including members of the left-wing Popular Unity Candidacy party, tried to head toward a nearby demonstration organized by the police association Jusapol calling for a pay rise for police officers, as broadcast by local media.

    Security forces attempted to block the road, which led to clashes between the police and the protesters. The demonstrators barred a section of a nearby street, throwing paint, smoke grenades and cans at the police.

    On Friday night, prior to the escalation, the groups of people supporting independence camped out with an aim to stop the demonstration in support of the police that had operated during Catalonia's failed attempt to gain independence from Spain. 

    On October 1, 2017, the northeastern Spanish region held an independence referendum, which resulted in 90 percent of voters supporting Catalonia's secession from Spain. On October 27, 2017, the Catalan government proclaimed the region's independence, but the central Spanish government responded by imposing direct governance over Catalonia just one day later, refusing to accept the vote. 

    Related:

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    Tags:
    riot, protesters, 2017 Catalan independence referendum, police, Catalonia, Spain
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