Violence Erupted In Spain As Catalans Overwhelmingly Voted For Independence
More than 800 people were injured as police clashed with people voting in a contested independence referendum Sunday. Officials said early Monday that 90% of the votes were cast in favor of independence.
Hundreds were injured in northeast Spain after police fired rubber bullets and clashed with protesters attempting to vote in a referendum that in the end overwhelmingly favored independence for Catalonia.
Police outfitted in riot gear fired rubber bullets and physically removed people from polling stations as they attempted to vote.
The referendum is the latest development in Catalonia's long push for independence, which has recently forced Spain into its greatest constitutional crisis in decades. In September, a vote was called for independence for the region, which operates semi-autonomously and houses some 7.5 million residents. But Spain's constitutional court declared the referendum illegal, and moved thousands of officers and riot police into the region ahead of the vote, the BBC reported.
According to the Associated Press, 2.6 million Catalans voted Sunday, 90% of whom favored independence from Spain. Catalan regional government spokesman Jordi Turull said 8% of the votes opposed breaking away and 15,000 ballots still needed to be counted, according to the AP.
As of late afternoon local time, some 465 people had been injured, according to El Pais, a prominent Spanish newspaper. That number was later revised to 844, the AP reported. Officials have not yet publicly discussed the severity of injuries, or whether there were any casualties.
Roughly 2,300 polling stations were open on Sunday morning, Catalan officials claimed, but the national government in Madrid said it closed down more than half of those, according to Reuters. Riot officers were stationed outside, blocking voters from entering many of the buildings. In one video, police appear to break into a polling station in order to stop people from voting. A dozen police officers were also reportedly wounded.
Turull told the AP the number of ballots counted does not include those confiscated by Spanish authorities.