Catalan govt admits referendum blow but vows to press on

Spain's conservative government has dealt a serious blow to Catalonia's plans to hold an independence referendum but it faces growing

Spain's conservative government has dealt a serious blow to Catalonia's plans to hold an independence referendum but it faces growing

Police say the cell had acquired at least 100 kilograms of highly explosive acetone peroxide (TATP) and planned to fill vans with it in order to blow up various important landmarks in Barcelona. Each of the ferries has a capacity of over 6,500 passengers.

They also arrested 14 organizers of the vote, including several top Catalan government officials. The next day, the Constitutional Court accepted the lawsuit for review, thus suspending the Catalan law on referendum.

Earlier in the week, the Catalan government accused Madrid of essentially taking over the regional administration after federal police raided its offices and arrested officials.

An Interior Ministry statement said the extra police will provide backing for Catalan regional police who are also under orders to prevent the staging of the referendum.

A spokesman for Junqueras confirmed the arrest and said that other Catalan government premises were being searched by the agents.

Efforts by prosecutors to crack down on activists in Barcelona and other cities who are preparing to stage the ballot on October 1 are being hampered by foot-dragging within Mossos d'Esquadra, as the northeastern region's police department is known, according to four people familiar with the matter.

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Hundreds entered the main building of Barcelona University and occupied a central cloister near the offices of the dean and other university managers.

A pro-independence group said about 2,500 supporters were at the protest in Hospitalet.

Diego Pérez de los Cobos, a colonel in Spain's Civil Guards, was named "technical director" on Saturday to supervise the work of the Civil Guards, National Police and the "Mossos", a local Catalan police force, El País reported.

Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan regional president, urged protesters on the streets in Barcelona to remain calm. The Spanish government called the bill illegal and challenged it in the Constitutional Court.

Spain's central government says the planned referendum violates Spain's constitution.

The region has about 5.5 million eligible voters, and polls consistently show the region's inhabitants favour a referendum but are roughly evenly divided over independence from Spain.

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