Spanish police arrest suspect over Barcelona attacks

HeraldScotland

So far the state and local police forces have worked together well, but Spanish government officials say in private the Mossos could do more to block the vote and maintain order.

The Catalan National Assembly civic group has called for the protests to continue until the regional officials are released.

The Mossos, who are normally controlled by the Catalan government, have been accused by Madrid of not sufficiently cracking down on preparations for the independence vote, which Spain's Constitutional Court has ruled illegal.

Spain is on the brink of a political crisis as Catalan leaders insist on holding an independence vote on October 1 whereas the government in Madrid sees the move unconstitutional and wants to use any means its possesses to prevent the vote. Three ferries docked in harbors in Barcelona and Tarragona, about 60 miles (100 km) south of the regional capital, will provide accommodation for the extra police.

The reinforcements will join 5,000 state police already based in the region.

Acting on a judge's orders, police seized 10 million ballot papers and arrested at least 12 people, mostly Catalan government officials, suspected of coordinating the referendum. A statement said the six declined to give evidence.

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After the Barcelona attack, in which a young man drove a van through a crowded street, police discovered the terrorist cell had been planning a much more serious attack.

Meanwhile, hundreds more pro-independence supporters protested outside a courthouse in the north-eastern Catalan town of Hospitalet de Llobregat to demand the release of the arrested officials.

The Catalan regional government says that a top official in the management of the region's economic affairs has been arrested as a crackdown intensifies on preparations for a secession vote that Spanish authorities have suspended.

Even so, he remained confident there will be a large turnout of Catalans on October 1-whatever form the vote takes.

The region has about 5.5 million eligible voters, and polls consistently show the region's inhabitants favour a referendum but are roughly evenly divided over independence from Spain.

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