Over 460 people hurt in Catalonia vote clashes
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Over 460 people hurt in Catalonia vote clashes

Spain's interior ministry says police have closed 79 of 2,300 polling stations; FC Barcelona-Las Palmas soccer match goes on without fans

Spanish National Police try to dislodge pro-referendum supporters sitting down on a street in Barcelona, October 1, 2017. (AP/Manu Fernandez)
Spanish National Police try to dislodge pro-referendum supporters sitting down on a street in Barcelona, October 1, 2017. (AP/Manu Fernandez)

BARCELONA, Spain — More than 460 people have been injured in Catalonia in clashes with Spanish police who were trying to prevent a referendum on independence from taking place in the northeastern region, Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau said Sunday.

Colau demanded “an immediate end to police charges against the defenseless population.”

Police have baton-charged and fired rubber bullets to disperse crowds in Barcelona and other towns and cities. Videos have showed them beating people repeatedly as they try to confiscate ballots and ballot boxes.

In addition to the protesters and voters injured, Spain’s Interior Ministry said 11 police officers were injured while fulfilling judicial orders to prevent the referendum on independence.

Hundreds of people had gathered before dawn at the polling stations set up in schools and other public buildings for the referendum which Spain’s central government and the court have ruled is unconstitutional.

An injured man is taken into an ambulance near a school assigned to be a polling station by the Catalan government in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. (AP/Emilio Morenatti)

Their goal was to protect the polling stations peacefully by preventing police from entering and seizing ballot boxes and voting papers.

But police forced their way into many polling stations, especially in Barcelona, the Catalan capital, and Girona, the fiefdom of Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, a lifelong advocate of independence.

In some cases police fired rubber bullets or charged demonstrators who offered resistance, witnesses told AFP.

Videos posted on social media sites showed police pushing some demonstrators and even beating them with batons.

In one video protesters with their hands in the air can be seen surrounding a group of riot police chanting “Murderers! Murderers!”

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