A general strike began in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia on Friday — the fifth day of protests over the sentencing of nine separatists by Spain’s Supreme Court.

Protesters blocked major roads as they trekked towards Barcelona for a mass rally with striking workers and students later in the afternoon. Dozens of flights were canceled at the city’s El Prat airport, while there were reports of minor disruptions to the rail and tram networks.

The protests also prompted the Spanish soccer federation to postpone an October 26 La Liga match between Real Madrid and Barcelona over security concerns. Volkswagen subsidiary Seat said it had halted production at its plant near Barcelona until Saturday.

Read moreProtests in Barcelona after Catalan leaders’ jail sentences

A protester stands in front of the Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia was closed to tourists after hundreds of protesters blocked access to the iconic cathedral

Rioting in Barcelona

Tensions in Catalonia began to spiral on Monday, after the supreme court in Madrid jailed nine separatist leaders for terms of up to 13 years for their role in 2017 Catalonian independence bid.

The sentencing triggered violent protests, with pro-independence supporters taking to the streets and, in some cases, clashing with police and anti-independence activists. Officers said 11 people had been arrested in connection with the unrest. 

Authorities in Barcelona said the city had suffered more than €1.5 million ($1.67 million) in damage due to the rioting.

A protester holds up a plank of wood next to a fire in the street

More than 200 people have been injured in unrest in Catalonia over the past four days

Hundreds of thousands of protesters were expected to march from inland towns to join the pro-independence demonstration in central Barcelona on Friday. Reports from the early afternoon described hundreds of people blocking the entrance to the city’s famous Sagrada Familia basilica.

Spain’s caretaker interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, said authorities were keeping tabs on “minority groups that are provoking incidents in very specific places.”

Read more: Spain condemns ‘generalized violence’ in Catalonia

Meanwhile, Catalonia’s fomer leader, Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium after the independence vote in 2017, said he had handed himself in to Belgian authorities. On Monday, Spain issued a new warrant for his arrest on possible charges of sedition and misuse of public funds. Puigdemont told reporters on Friday that Belgian authorities had allowed him to remain free without bail. 

nm/rt (AP, Reuters, EFE, dpa)

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW’s editors send out a selection of the day’s hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

‘How have I not seen this before?’: Trump’s ‘House of Wings’ 2004 SNL skit goes viral (VIDEO)

Trump performed throughout the episode but was the centerpiece of the skit…

500 million bees drop dead in Brazil in 3 months

More than half a billion bees dropped dead in Brazil within just…

Hell freezes over? New York Times wants closer relationship with Russia, congratulates Trump

‘Russiagate’ has maintained an iron grip on American political discourse for two…

Southern California quake causes damage, injuries

Wildland firefighters pass by hospital equipment being set up outside the Ridgecrest…