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Police fire rubber bullets at voters in Barcelona as Catalonia poll turns violent

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In Girona, north of Barcelona, Guardia Civil police used a hammer to smash through a glass door of a school being used as a polling station.

Police have fired rubber bullets at crowds in Barcelona as violence erupted amid Catalonia's illegal independence poll.

Loud bangs rang out as projectiles were fired, sending people in the street screaming and running for cover.

Police vans drove through metal barriers as they cleared the road and witnesses reported seeing some people bleeding.

Sky News Europe Correspondent Mark Stone, at the scene, collected one of the large ball projectiles that were fired and said they were "pretty hard".

He said it was unclear whether there was any spark that caused police to act in what appeared to be a largely peaceful protest.

"Police were hitting people sitting on the ground with their batons. People then dispersed and moved out the way as a result and then the police vans - because space had been made for them - drove on through," said Stone.

"People were throwing barricades at the police, and it escalated from there."

People in the northeastern Spanish region have turned out to vote in an illegal referendum on splitting from Spain - but police drafted in from across the country have blocked off some polling stations and seized ballot boxes.

"In some polling stations votes are happening, in others the whole thing has been shut down - with an incredible degree of violence," said Stone.

In Girona, north of Barcelona, Guardia Civil police used a hammer to smash through a glass door of a school being used as a polling station.

There were scuffles outside as people chanted: "I will vote!

Catalan officials have said voters can go to any polling station, not just their designated one, in an attempt to ensure people can vote.

Spain's interior ministry claimed police had sealed off 'most' of the region's 2,000+ polling stations.

However, the Catalan government tweeted on Sunday morning that 73% of polling stations (4561) were open.

Pro-independence campaigners camped out in schools overnight, many with children, in an attempt to stop police taking them over.

The Spanish government claimed on Saturday that the technological infrastructure for voting and counting ballots had been dismantled making the referendum "absolutely impossible".

Their assertion that the referendum is illegal is backed up by the courts and a judgment based on the Spanish constitution.

Ahead of the vote, protests were also held in Barcelona and Madrid by people opposed to independence.

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Muslim Global: Police fire rubber bullets at voters in Barcelona as Catalonia poll turns violent
Police fire rubber bullets at voters in Barcelona as Catalonia poll turns violent
Police have fired rubber bullets at crowds in Barcelona as violence erupted amid Catalonia's illegal independence poll. Loud bangs rang out as projectiles were fired, sending people in the street screaming and running for cover.
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