Hundreds of people in Catalonia have been injured in violent clashes with police in the wake of a controversial referendum held in Spain’s autonomous region on seceding from the European country.
Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau, said in a statement on Sunday afternoon that disturbances across Catalonia earlier in the day had left over 460 people injured. Injuries came after riot police, with full gear, clashed with pro-independence people who had convened in front of the polling stations.
“As mayor of Barcelona I demand an immediate end to police charges against the defenseless population,” Colau said in the statement.
In a separate statement, the Catalan health service raised the number of wounded to 465, with two people in critical condition at hospital.
The Spanish government says the referendum is illegal and the country’s Constitutional Court has ordered the vote suspended. Separatist regional leaders pledged to hold it anyway and called on the 5.3 million “eligible” voters to show up for the poll.
In order to halt the vote, Madrid had increased pressure on Catalan officials over the past week. It also deployed thousands of extra police from across the country to Catalonia to stop the vote.