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Firemen at the Biblioteca Central Gabriel Ferrater, Sant Cugat del Valles, just outside Barcelona. Catalonia’s firemen were joined by Basque firemen in a pledge to protect voters during the October 1st referendum on independence. Elsewhere in Catalonia, they were attacked by Spanish Guardian Civil and Policia Nacional. One of the firemen, Oriol said “we just want to protect people”.<br />
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On October 1st 2017, Catalans voted in a binding referendum to decide whether the region should stay in Spain, or leave and become an independent Republic. The Madrid government of Mariano Rajoy sent thousands of extra police into Catalonia, brutally attacking around 10% of  voting centres and seizing ballot boxes, injuring nearly 1000 people in an effort to stop the vote. Despite the violence, there was turn turnout of well more than 42% with around 90% in favour of independence. Some 770,000 votes from an electorate of 5.5 million were stolen by police forces or unable to be cast  because of raids.