Catalonia on streets after Spain's arrests

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A large and noisy demonstration lasting more than 24 hours in Barcelona against the raids and arrests dispersed on Friday afternoon after the officials were released.

Spain's Europa Press news agency and other media outlets said the raids Wednesday mostly targeted the region's economic and foreign departments as Spanish authorities worked to halt all preparatory moves for the planned October 1referendum.

The Catalan regional government confirmed Josep Maria Jove, secretary general of economic affairs, was among those arrested.

In Barcelona, several thousand protesters flooded the streets for a second day running after police detained key members of the team organizing the October 1 vote. The Constitutional Court has ordered it suspended while it studies its legality.

An Interior Ministry statement said the extra police would provide backing for the Catalan regional police, who are also under orders to prevent the staging of the referendum. They occupied a central cloister near the offices of the dean and other university officials. Police said up to 40,000 people gathered outside the devolved government's economy ministry in the city, which was searched.

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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. It did not say how many extra police would be sent.

Sturgeon's National Party has formerly called for a fresh vote on independence before Britain leaves the European Union (EU).

Separatist parties who control the Catalan parliament pushed through the referendum law earlier this month after unsuccessfully demanding for years the right to hold a free vote on self-determination.

Mr Puigdemont had accused the central government of effectively suspending devolution after it moved to seize control of regional finances to stop them being used to fund the referendum.

A pro-independence group said about 2,500 supporters were at the protest in Hospitalet. The next day, Spain's Constitutional Court suspended the Catalan law on referendum.


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