In Catalonia in clashes with the police injured more than 300 people

Lionel Messi scored the second and third goals as Barcelona made it seven wins in seven

"We were inside singing the Catalan hymn when we heard very violent knocks at the door", said Marc Carrasco, in charge of the voting station at the Ramon Llull school. Officers with shields and helmets were seen dragging people away.

At least 91 people were confirmed injured in clashes out of more than 330 who went to hospital, emergency services said, as police cracked down on what the Spanish central government branded a "farce". The Catalan leader condemned the police crackdown, saying it would "shame the Spanish state forever".

The figure came from Barcelona's mayor Ada Colau, who demanded an end to "police actions against a peaceful defenceless population".

"The government, exercising its constitutional functions, will enforce the law", Mendez said at a news conference.

On September 6, the Catalan regional parliament approved a referendum on independence, agreeing the question on the ballot paper would read: "Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?".

High-ranking Catalan officials involved in organising the referendum have also been arrested.

Spain's Interior Ministry said 12 police had been injured and three people, including one young girl, had been detained for disobedience and assaulting a police officer.

Outspoken Barca defender Gerard Pique posted a picture of him casting his vote early on Sunday.

Polling station workers reacted peacefully and broke out into songs and chants challenging the officers' presence.

He said people could print their ballots from home and vote at any open polling station if their designated booth was closed.

"It's unacceptable that, in a democratic country, people can't vote".

Pro-secession supporters camp out at Barcelona schools to defy Madrid authorities before Sunday's independence vote.


The ballot will have no legal status as it has been blocked by Spain's Constitutional Court and Madrid for being at odds with the 1978 constitution.

"If the yes wins, if the no wins - in any scenario there must be mediation because things aren't working", he said in an interview with the Agence France-Presse news agency. European Union chiefs say an independent Catalonia wouldn't be allowed as a member. "If it doesn't take an interest in what is happening in Catalonia when everyone is watching and taking an interest, there's something wrong". "But now, I'm going to vote yes to independence", she said angrily.

Many in Catalonia and across Spain do not support the illegal vote or the push for independence and protests have been held in recent days in cities including Barcelona and Madrid.

"Spanish democracy faces its greatest challenge", headlined top-selling El Pais daily just hours before police moved in en masse to seal off polling stations and seize ballot boxes, sparking scuffles as they sought to block the vote.

Follow complete AP coverage of the Catalonia referendum here.

Policemen attacking voters in bid to stop the referendum.

Organisers had asked voters to turn out before dawn, hoping for large crowds to be the world's first image of voting day.

"Spain is a close ally and a good friend, whose strength and unity matters to us".

How have relations between Catalans seeking independence and the Spanish government descended to this?

From Barcelona to Girona to Figueras, thousands stood in unprecedented defiance of the central authorities, crying "Votarem" - "We will vote".

The biggest demonstration against the referendum, scheduled for Sunday, took place at Madrid's Plaza de Cibeles square, outside city hall. By mid-afternoon, Spain's Interior Ministry said 92 polling stations had been closed.

Polls show around 40 percent of the wealthy northeastern region want independence from Spain although a majority wanted a referendum on the issue.

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