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Spanish police are reported to have raided several departments of Catalonia's regional government as tensions rise between Madrid and the pro-independence regional government over a banned independence referendum.
Several news reports state that Spain's Guardia Civil entered several departments of the Catalonian government this morning, arresting a junior minister, as they continue to seek more material related to the independence movement.
Spanish police arrested the Catalan region's junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove on Wednesday, according to a Reuters report citing sources within the regional government. Police entered the local governmental offices of the economy, interior, foreign affairs, welfare, telecommunications and tax, the sources told the news agency.
In addition, the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia also tweeted a total of 12 Catalonian government officials had been detained by the police.
The raids were part of a search for documents linked to a banned independence referendum planned for October 1st, a vote which the national government and Constitutional Court has deemed illegal, stating that only national authorities are able to call such votes. Catalonia has a strong independence movement and plans to hold a vote on independence regardless, leading to several recent attempts by the national government to stop the vote.
Following Wednesday's morning raids, key figures in the region's independence movement took to Twitter. Jordi Sanchez, president of the pro-independence ANC (Catalan National Assembly) also tweeted that police were entering the Economy ministry and vice-presidency.
The region's vice president, Oriol Junqueras, tweeted that the police were "attacking the institutions of this country."
The latest attempts by the police to stop the vote come after similar raids elsewhere. On Tuesday, the Guardia Civil raided one office and found boxes of election material, including voting cards, it was reported. Last week, police raided a print work and newspaper offices searching for ballot boxes and voting papers, Reuters reported.
The raids have caused mixed reaction with scuffles breaking out between police and pro-independence protesters as well as criticism of the national government's attempts to stop a vote in the wealthy north-east region of Spain. The former leader of Catalonia, Artur Mas, was banned from holding public office for two years earlier this year for organizing an illegal independence referendum in 2014.