Authorities in Madrid have moved to stop an independence referendum in the Spanish region of Catalonia this weekend, with reports that police have sealed off polling stations and raided a telecommunications center.
The national government has said police have secured 1,300 of 2,315 schools in Catalonia which had been designated as voting stations, according to Reuters. This comes after 163 schools were occupied by families to prevent their closure.
Police will also remove people from polling stations on Sunday, the news agency reported citing a government source. The source did not give details on how this would be carried out but said it would be up to the police as to how they remove people. Volunteers staffing the centers will be liable for fines of up to 300,000 euros ($354,360), according to the source.
Pro-independence lawmakers hope the northeastern region will gain complete political and economic autonomy from Spain despite the referendum putting Catalonia in open defiance of central authorities in Madrid. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont told Reuters on Friday the vote would go ahead, without any last minute compromises.
Earlier on Saturday, Spanish police raided the Catalan government's telecommunications and information technology center, the La Vanguardia newspaper reported, citing RAC1 radio station. Spain's Interior Ministry could not confirm the raid, according to Reuters.