Barcelona is on the brink of another wave of violence as a radical movement of young separatists, Arran, called for a fresh demonstration against repression by authorities, AFP reported on Saturday October 19th.
Nearly 200 people were hurt on Friday night after clashes between radical separatists and the police. The Catalan capital resembled a chaotic battleground on the fifth consecutive day of protests over a Spanish court's sentencing of nine separatist leaders on sedition charges over a failed independence bid two years ago.
In the overnight violence, 83 people were detained in addition to the 128 arrests police had reported before Friday's march, according to the Spanish Interior Ministry.
In Barcelona’s worst night of violence in decades, masked youths blocked roads with blazing rubbish bins and hurled rocks at security forces. Police responded by firing repeated rounds of smoke grenades and tear gas, according to local reports and witnesses.
“All kinds of violence are condemned, Barcelona doesn’t deserve this, the current situation can’t go on,” Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau said.
Political leaders intervened to try to defuse tensions given the widespread fears of continuing violence in the Catalan region.
Catalonia’s pro-independence regional chief, Quim Torra, has urged Spain’s central government to intervene peacefully and hold talks to put an end to the crisis.
“We urge the acting prime minister of the Spanish government to sit at a negotiating table to talk. Violence has never been and will never be our way,” he said.
Around half a million people had rallied in Barcelona on Friday October 18th in the biggest gathering since Monday's court ruling as separatists also called a general strike in the major tourist destination.
Independence is a sensitive and controversial issue in Catalonia, which is Spain’s wealthiest region, as people are sharply divided on the secession.
According to Euronews poll results last July, 48.3% of people were against independence and 44% in favour, the lowest independence percentage in two years.