Catalonia firefighters shield protesters during clash with police over vote

GIRONA, SPAIN (OCTOBER 1, 2017) (REUTERS) – Catalan firefighters appeared during clashes between pro-independence voters and the Spanish Civil Guard outside a polling station in Girona, attempting to shield the protesters from the police on Sunday (October 1).

The disruption erupted after civil guard broke into a polling station where Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont was expected to vote in a banned independence referendum that’s divided the nation.

In similar actions police burst into polling station across Catalonia on Sunday confiscating ballot boxes and voting papers to try to halt the referendum — on a split from Spain — as Madrid asserted its authority over the rebel region.

Despite the police action, hundreds-strong queues of people formed in cities and villages throughout the region to cast their votes.

Puigdemont cast his ballot later in the morning in the nearby village of Cornella del Terri in the province of Girona, not in the polling station originally planned.

Hundreds of firefighters gathered on the roof of Catalonia’s Museum of History on Thursday (September 28) to voice their support for the right to vote in the referendum, the Spanish newspaper El Pais said on its website.