The Latest: Police fire rubber projectiles in Barcelona
Spanish riot police have fired rubber projectiles at protesters outside a Barcelona polling station during Catalonia’s disputed independence referendum. Several people have been wounded.
The officers fired the projectiles while trying to clear protesters who were trying to impede National Police cars from leaving after police confiscated ballot boxes from the voting center.
An AP photographer witnessed how several people had been injured during the scuffles outside Barcelona’s Rius i Taule school, where some voters had cast ballots before police arrived.
Manuel Conedeminas, a 48-year-old IT manager who tried to block police from driving away with the ballot boxes, said agents had kicked them before using their batons and firing the projectiles, which were ball-shaped.
Several members of the Catalan regional government cast their ballots in a banned referendum on independence from Spain that became messy as riot police moved Sunday to halt voting in several polling centers.
Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont voted in Cornella de Terri, near the northern city of Girona, after police took over control of the original polling center where he was due to appear, his spokesman Joan Maria Pique told The Associated Press.
Puigdemont has spearheaded the separatist politicians’ push to go ahead with the vote, despite a Constitutional Court suspension and fierce opposition by central authorities.
Regional vice president Oriol Junqueras also found his designated polling station taken over by police and moved to a different location where he eventually voted, regional broadcaster TV3 said.
Electoral volunteers at polling centers in Catalonia’s disputed referendum say they are unable to access census data because the website that hosted it is down, while internet service has been cut in some of the stations.
Technicians are working to set up new domains for the website where electoral managers need to register polling data, said Jordi Sole, a 48-year-old historian who displayed an accreditation with the regional government’s logo and said that was at the Collaso high school in Barcelona to assist with the voting.
Guillem Castillo, an 18-year-old engineering student designated as an electoral official there, said technical problems halted the voting shortly after it opened.
Spanish media reported similar problems with internet in polling centers across Catalonia.
Spanish riot police have forcefully removed a few hundred would-be voters from a polling station at a school in Barcelona.
Daniel Riano was inside when the police pushed aside a large group gathered outside busted in the Estela school’s front door.
The 54-year-old Riano said that “we were waiting inside to vote when the National Police used force to enter, they used a mace to break in the glass door and they took everything.”
He said that “one policeman put me in a headlock to drag me out, while I was holding my wife’s hand. It was incredible. They didn’t give any warning.”
Ferran Miralles said a crowd scuffled with police outside as they formed a tight perimeter around the door. Miralles said “they were very aggressive. They pushed me out of the way.”
Elsewhere in Barcelona, police have detained several people outside the Treball voting center amid scuffles on the street. Officers dragged some of the protesters away and detained them.
Spanish riot police have smashed their way into a polling station in Catalonia where the regional leader was expected to show up to vote in the disputed independence referendum.
Civil Guard riot police with shields have used a hammer to smash the glass of the front door of the voting center and lock cutters to force their way in. Scuffles erupted outside between police and people waiting to vote at the polling center in Sant Julia de Ramis, near the Catalan city of Girona.