Nine Catalan separatists suspected of planning violent acts were arrested on Monday morning in Catalonia, in northeastern Spain, during a series of searches that resulted in the seizure of equipment that could be used to manufacture explosives.
Two suspects were later released while the remainder have been sent to court in Madrid.
The operation targeted members of the Committees for the Defence of the Republic. Created during Catalonia’s bid for secession in October 2017, these groups of citizens made themselves known by cutting off roads or railroads and sometimes clashing with the police.
Unlike the Basque separatist organization ETA, which stopped the armed action in 2018, the Catalan independence movement has so far been characterised by peaceful demonstrations.
“We conducted nine arrests for the time being and ten searches were conducted in the province of Barcelona during which evidence of preparation of violent actions were seized,” said in a statement the police, which states that other arrests could occur.
Documents and computer equipment was seized, as well as “material and substances in abundance that can be used in the manufacture of explosives,” police said.
On their Twitter account, the CDR denounced “indiscriminate searches and arbitrary detentions”. The operation took place a few weeks before the announcement in October of the sentence against the 12 separatists being leaders tried by the Supreme Court for the attempted secession in 2017.
“They are trying to build a narrative of violence again before the verdict. They will not succeed. The independence movement is and will remain peaceful,” said the Catalan regional president and independence supporter Quim Torra in a tweet.