Tension rises in Spain's Catalan amid police operations against referendum

Spain's Guardia Civil raids Catalan government offices

Carlos Puigdemont, Catalonia's pro-independence president, has said the autonomous region's independence referendum is a moment for his compatriots to "express our will as a people, remembering the past, where we come from, but also to project ourselves into the future".

On Thursday, tens of thousands gathered outside the seat of Catalonia's top court in Barcelona, singing and banging drums, to protest the arrests of senior officials in police raids on regional government offices on Wednesday.

The Catalan regional leader on Thursday said he would press on with an October 1 referendum on a split from Spain, flouting a court ban, as tens of thousands gathered for a second day on the streets of Barcelona demanding the right to vote.

They seized more than 45,000 envelopes containing leaflets informing voters about the referendum from a private delivery company in Terrassa, north-west of Barcelona, on Tuesday.

Barcelona said it "condemns any act that may impede the free exercise of these rights".

"Primavera Sound can not and does not want to keep quiet about the events that have taken place in Catalonia and especially what has taken place today in Barcelona", the statement says.

The club also says it "will continue to support the will of the majority of Catalan people, and will do so in a civil, peaceful, and exemplary way".

The tax agency increase, which includes an expansion of personnel by 75 percent, signals one of Catalonia's most palpable institutional investments for a people on the brink of attaining their independence.

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On Wednesday, the region's president, Carles Puigdemont, accused the Spanish government of imposing a "de facto state of emergency" across the region.

And in a separate move Spain's finance minister, Cristóbal Montoro, said the national government was now set to take control of a large part of Catalonia's public finances.

In the early hours of the morning, armed officers from the Guardia Civil arrived at ministries, including the offices of economic affairs, foreign relations and the social affairs, said the spokesman.

The vote has been suspended by Spain's Constitutional Court while judges consider the central government's claims that it is illegal.

Nicola Sturgeon has backed the right of the Catalan government to hold an independence referendum as she spoke of her concern over attempts to stop it.

Catalans remain certain that the referendum will go through as planned on October 1st.

Spain's Guardia Civil police force on Wednesday arrested the Catalan region's junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove, police and Catalonia's regional government said.

However, his government's heavy-handed approach has only stoked the fires of those seeking independence for Catalonia. Other, current members of the Catalan government are facing legal action over their roles in the push for independence.

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