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Scotland leader Sturgeon 'concerned' at Catalonia scenes

[EDINBURGH] Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called Sunday on Spain to change course, as dozens of people were injured in Catalonia during a banned independence referendum.

Mrs Sturgeon, who leads the pro-independence Scottish National Party, has backed the right of the Catalan government to hold a vote on separation.

She said on Twitter she was "increasingly concerned by images from Catalonia," as Spanish police forced their way into many polling stations and fired rubber bullets at protesters.

Spain's central government and courts have ruled that the Catalan vote is unconstitutional.

"Regardless of views on independence, we should all condemn the scenes being witnessed and call on Spain to change course before someone is seriously hurt," Mrs Sturgeon wrote.

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"Let people vote peacefully." Mrs Sturgeon has deferred plans for another referendum on Scottish independence.

The SNP and other pro-independence parties in 2014 lost a vote to leave the United Kingdom, polling 45 per cent against 55 per cent who opted to remain.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson also expressed alarm at the violence in Catalonia.

"Everyone will be shocked by the disturbing scenes coming from Catalonia. It is clear that this is a fast-moving situation, but we would urge the authorities to exercise restraint. Nobody wants to see people hurt," Ms Davidson said.

Catalonia's independence referendum has led to a series of demonstrations in Scotland, the latest on Sunday with around 500 people marching through the streets of Edinburgh.

Alan Rogers, 62, travelled from Glasgow to join the march "after witnessing the dreadful scenes on television, the use of violence by the security forces and the police against people only trying to use their democratic right to have a vote for independence."

Despite the legal referendum held in Scotland in 2014, Mr Rogers said he feared police and troops could be used "against the people of Scotland" in a future poll.

However, Ismael Navarro, 37, from Barcelona, has lived in Scotland for eight years and said he did not believe the British government would "stoop so low" as Spain.

"I do believe in self-determination of the people and the territories, and I do believe that Scotland would succeed as an independent country right now," he told AFP.

"They had a choice, they had a vote, it was no and people lived with it, and I feel at least it is fantastic that they had the opportunity to vote," said Mr Navarro, who voted for Catalan independence by post.


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