The Independent: Catalonia: Huge fight breaks out during demonstration in Barcelona on Spain's National Day12 October 2017 | 23:06 | FOCUS News Agency
Some 65,000 people are thought to have gathered in the Catalan capital to mark Spain’s national day and call for the country’s unity against attempts at secession.
The turnout was the highest since the police started keeping track of the figures three years ago, a spokesman from the city’s urban guard said.
Two small groups of protesters clashed in the city centre, throwing chairs near the Plaza de Catalunya.
It was unclear what sparked the violence and Barcelona’s municipal authorities said the groups’ ideological leanings had not been established.
Before the fighting began, around 300 people began chanting at the local Mossos d’Esquadra police force and some called them “traitors”, according to the El Diario newspaper.
The officers backed away to avoid a confrontation, the site said, minutes before the brawl broke out some distance away.
Footage of the fight showed chairs flying in both directions, before Barcelona’s urban guard and regional police removed a few dozen protesters on each side. One officer suffered minor injuries.
The brawl reportedly did not disrupt the nearby unionist demonstration.
A separate protest of around 200 supporters of far-right and Spanish nationalist groups ended on Barcelona’s Montjuic hill with speeches and the burning of a “Senyera,” the unofficial flag that has become a symbol for Catalan separatists.
The scenes came as Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont engaged in back-and-forth brinkmanship with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy over his delayed declaration of regional independence.
Mr Puigdemont reacted to the Spanish ultimatum to backtrack on his independence plans or face a suspension of regional powers, tweeting: “We demand dialogue and the response is to put article 155 on the table. Message understood.”
He had earlier proposed to regional lawmakers to freeze the implementation of secession to allow time for negotiating independence with Spain. Mr Rajoy has rejected any dialogue as long as secession is on the table.
The only other acknowledgement of Madrid’s warning came from Mr Puigdemont’s deputy, Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras, who tweeted to Mr Rajoy: “A sincere dialogue is what the international community wants and what Catalonia expects, not confrontation and new threats.”
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