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Violent clashes in Barcelona on the fifth day of separatist protests

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in the heart of Barcelona on Friday, setting up barriers, setting fire to the streets and throwing stones at security forces on the fifth day of unrest after separatist leaders were jailed.

The clashes came a day after generally peaceful demonstrations in which more than half a million people poured into the streets of the Catalan capital to protest against lengthy prison sentences for leaders that caused a shock in the Spanish political landscape.

But as night fell, masked youths blocked a wide street near the city’s police headquarters, set fire to large rubbish bins and threw rows of riot police with stones and bottles.

Police responded with repeated bursts of rubber bullets, smoke bombs and tear gas, filling the area with thick, suffocating smoke.

Officials said clashes took place in at least four other cities in Catalonia, Spain’s richest province in the north-east, while there was no sign that anger among pro-secessionists might ease.

Acting Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska said 207 policemen had been wounded since Monday and authorities had arrested about 128 people over the past five days, warning that rioters faced up to six years in prison.

It began on Saturday with hundreds of thousands of people from Catalonia pouring into Barcelona to protest against a ruling by the Spanish Supreme Court that nine separatist leaders were jailed on charges of a failed separatist bid in 2017.

Trade unions called for a general strike and students boycotted the study for the third day in a row as factories closed. More than 50 flights to Barcelona’s main airport were canceled and local transport services were curtailed.

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