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Relative calm returns to Barcelona on Saturday, Sunday

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-10-21 11:14

Acting Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska delivers a speech during the last question time session at Parliament before elections, in Madrid, Spain, Sept 18. [Photo/IC]

MADRID - Acting Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said on Sunday that the violent incidents seen in the Catalan region of northeast Spain over the past days after the sentences handed to Catalan separatist leaders by the Supreme Court, were becoming less frequent.

Speaking after a night of relative calm between Saturday night and Sunday morning, Grande-Marlaska repeated that the incidents were "strictly a problem of public order" and needed to be resolved by the legitimate use of Spain's security forces.

"If it is a public order issue, then the response of the State is that of public order..." said the minister at a press conference at the Moncloa Palace after the meeting of the monitoring committee of the situation in Catalonia, chaired by Acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

"Nobody should be ambiguous in the face of violent actions. We have to act against those who use violence," said the minister, adding that the Spanish government was continuing with a "plan to annul the disturbances."

The acting minister spoke after a night which saw around 6,000 peaceful demonstrators, according to Spanish TV network RTVE, took to the Via Laietana in the center of Barcelona, close to the office of the Spanish National Police.

Violent clashes took place on Friday. More than 50 arrests have been made and over 150 people needed medical attendance.

Demonstrators formed a protective cordon around the police headquarters on Saturday, ensuring the extremists were unable to get close enough to provoke more than a few isolated violent incidents.

Those incidents saw the Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan regional police) make 13 arrests, while emergency services said that 14 people needed medical attention.

Meanwhile, the authorities advised that the establishments in the center of Barcelona remain closed. Many, such as savings banks, had fixed wooden boards across their windows to stop vandalism by radical groups.

Grande-Marlaska said on Sunday that so far 288 police officers had been hurt, while 194 people had been arrested, with 11 remanded in custody. Meanwhile 267 police vehicles have suffered some kind of damage in the disturbances.

Grande-Marlaska visited Barcelona on Saturday and insisted the government was able to manage the disturbances.

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