Catalan independence referendum: Violence breaks out across Catalonia as voters clash with Guardia Civil

Protesters clash with police during demonstrations ahead of the Catalan independence referendum

Protesters clash with police during demonstrations ahead of the Catalan independence referendum

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Violence has been reported across Catalonia this morning as the region holds its independence referendum.

Thousands of members of Spain's Guardia Civil police force have been drafted in ahead of the referendum, which is illegal under Spanish law.

Even before the polls opened, there had been reports of police attempting to close polling stations, while several key Catalan political figures, including regional vice president Oriol Junqueras, had been arrested.

Pictures circulating on social media this morning appeared to show Guardia Civil officers, wearing helmets and riot shields, forcibly restraining large crowds of voters, while several people were seen with cuts to their heads and bodies.

The images have quickly gone viral on Catalan social media channels, with the region's independence supporters citing them as examples of perceived repression by the Spanish state.

Catalonia's regional government, led by President Carles Puigdemont, has said the referendum is binding and, if a 'yes' vote is secured, the process of independence will begin.

However Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has insisted the result is invalid and the entire exercise is an affront to the national constitution.

You can view a selection of images and videos of the clashes below.