Hundreds injured as police shut down Catalan vote

Over 400 are injured in Spain after police used force to try to prevent voting in Catalonia’s independence referendum on Sunday. Pascale Davies reports

BARCELONA GIRONA, AND MADRID, SPAIN (REUTERS / FORTA) – Hundreds injured in clashes in Spain, as police try to prevent voting in Catalonia’s independence referendum.

According to a Spanish newspaper, police were using batons, and fired rubber bullets at angry voters who were trying to enter the polling stations.

Catalan officials say over 400 people are being treated for injuries due to police action.

Spain’s deputy Prime Minister says police acted with professionalism and in a proportionate way.

In Girona, riot police smashed there way into a polling station where Catalans leader was due to vote.

Carles Puigdemont has accused Spain of unjustified violence.

But some avoided clashing with police and were able to vote.

The referendum has been declared illegal by country’s central government.

Pressure for the vote among Catalonians has grown over the past few years.

The wealthy region of 7.5 million people has its own language and culture.

It also has a high degree of autonomy, but is not recognized as a separate nation .

Carles Puigdemont originally said that if the “yes” vote wins, the Catalan government would declare independence within 48 hours.

But even if that happens, the ballot will have no legal status, as it’s been blocked by the constitutional court.

And it’s Madrid that has the ultimate power.

Under its 1978 charter it can suspend the regional government’s authority to rule if it declares independence.