Police clash with Catalan separatists

Protesters have clashed with police in Barcelona as thousands took to the streets there and in cities across Catalonia to mark the first anniversary of the contested referendum on independence from Spain.

More than 180,000 demonstrators marched in Barcelona.

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Police wielding batons broke up a demonstration in front of the Catalan regional parliament.

Hundreds of activists occupied high-speed rail tracks for several hours.

Roads and a motorway were also blocked.

Catalonia held the vote on 1 October 2017 and its separatist government declared independence on 27 October.

But Spain’s constitutional court deemed the referendum illegal and Madrid imposed direct rule.

At the time, there were ugly scenes on the streets as Spanish police tried to prevent people from going to the polls.

The anniversary protests were organised by the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDRs), which are demanding a clean break with the Spanish state.

The CDRs briefly blocked the rail service between Barcelona and Figueres, as well as city streets in Lleida and Barcelona and the motorway between the coastal city and the Spanish capital, Madrid.

CDR groups also demonstrated in cities around the world, including in London and Paris.