Thousands of Students Rally in Barcelona University Demanding Independence Vote

Thousands of Students Rally in Barcelona University Demanding Independence Vote

Officials in Madrid have been quietly hiring cruise ships to moor in the Port of Barcelona as temporary housing as they amass what El Correo newspaper said may be more than 16,000 riot police and other security officers before the planned poll.

Several thousands of students gathered in the building of the University of Barcelona and hold rallies and manifestations there demanding the referendum on Catalonia's independence from Spain. Each of the ferries has a capacity of over 6,500 passengers.

Tension has been rising between Spanish and Catalan authorities, and Civil Guard police this week arrested around a dozen regional government officials and seized about 10 million ballot papers.

Despite the setbacks Catalan's regional leader Carles Puigdemont has vowed to press ahead with the referendum, defying a court ban.

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The Spanish resident, originally from Morocco, had a close relationship with those responsible for the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils which left 16 dead, according to a statement from Spain's Interior Ministry.

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

They will join the approximately 5,000 state police normally based in Catalonia and around 17,000 Mossos officers.

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. A statement said the six declined to testify.

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Meanwhile, Ian Williams, the other contributor on the panel, said the Catalan separatists are playing very cleverly by provoking the government in Madrid, "because they know the government is stupid enough" to fall in the trap.

Hundreds of pro-independence supporters had protested outside the courthouse to demand the officials' release. The Spanish government called the bill illegal and challenged it in the Constitutional Court. It represents 20 percent of Spain's €1.1 trillion ($1.32 trillion) economy.

Regional government rejects latest move from Madrid aimed at preventing independence vote. The region has about 5.5 million eligible voters.

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