Violent clashes escalated in Barcelona late Friday, as radical Catalan separatists hurled rocks and fireworks at police, who responded with teargas and rubber bullets, turning the town centre right into a chaotic battleground.
The deterioration got here on the fifth consecutive day of protests within the Catalan capital and elsewhere over a Spanish courtroom’s jailing of 9 separatist leaders on sedition expenses over a failed independence bid two years in the past.
Round half 1,000,000 individuals rallied in Barcelona earlier on Friday, police stated, within the greatest gathering since Monday’s courtroom ruling as separatists additionally known as a basic strike within the main vacationer vacation spot.
However whereas most marchers appeared peaceable, hordes of younger protesters went on the rampage close to the police headquarters, igniting an enormous blaze that despatched plumes of black smoke into the air, as police fired teargas to disperse them, an AFP correspondent stated.
Different fires raged close to Plaza de Catalunya on the prime of the vacationer hotspot Las Ramblas, the place a whole lot of demonstrators rallied in defiance of the police, who tried to disperse them with water cannon.
“Anti-fascist Catalonia!” they roared. “The streets will at all times be ours!”
Scores of police vans may very well be seen fanning out across the streets, their sirens screaming because the regional police warned individuals in a message in English on Twitter “to not strategy” the town centre.
The state of affairs later appeared calmer, in line with a police spokesman.
Earlier, many 1000’s of “freedom marchers”, who had got down to stroll from 5 regional cities on Wednesday, arrived in Barcelona carrying strolling boots and carrying mountaineering poles.
The rally coincided with the final strike, prompting the cancellation of 57 flights, the closure of retailers, enterprise and a number of other prime vacationer points of interest, and slowing public transport to a trickle in a area that accounts for a few fifth of Spain’s financial output.
Activists additionally lower off Catalonia’s most important cross-border freeway with France.