Spain steps up raids to halt Catalonia referendum

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Spain’s Guardia Civil police have detained a dozen senior Catalan officials and raided regional government ministries involved in organizing a banned independence vote, the BBC reports.

Tensions were already high when Josep Maria Jové, number two in the Catalan vice-presidency, and others were held.

Catalan leaders are defying a court order to halt the vote, condemned by the Madrid government as illegal.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the state had been forced to act.

But after an emergency cabinet meeting Catalan President Carles Puigdemont accused the Madrid government of “de facto” suspending the region’s autonomy and imposing a state of emergency.

Wednesday’s operation was a dramatic intensification of Spain’s attempt to stop the vote taking place.

And in a separate move Spain’s finance minister, Cristóbal Montoro, said the national government was now set to take control of a large part of Catalonia’s public finances.

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