Around 500 people are marching in central Madrid to support the Catalonia region's bid to hold a referendum on independence from Spain and criticizing the government for launching a crackdown to stop the vote.
Protests erupted in Catalan cities as well as Madrid on Wednesday after Spanish authorities ramped up their efforts to thwart the northeastern region's upcoming independence referendum by storming ministries and seizing almost 10 million ballot papers and detaining at least a dozen high ranking local officials. Spain's government has been backed by the Constitutional Court, which has suspended the referendum law passed by the Catalan parliament.
The others work in various Catalan government departments, including its economic and budget affairs departments, a local Guardia Civil spokesman said.
The premises of Catalan economy and finance ministry, the foreign affairs ministry and the presidency were all searched.
Police were searching for computer equipment and any documentation linked to the planned vote.
Earlier the mayor of Rasquera in Catalonia, Spain's autonomous community striving for independence, told Sputnik that the authorities in Madrid had threatened to arrest him if he facilitated the possible independence referendum, but to no avail. A letter was sent to Mr Junqueras late on Tuesday reminding him the deadline had passed.
The move was the latest spike in tension in the standoff between national authorities based in Madrid and pro-independence Catalans over a planned October 1 referendum.
Spain's Guardia Civil raided the offices of three government ministries on Wednesday and arrested 13 people over the upcoming Catalonia referendum.
For his part, the Spanish foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, accused the pro-independence side of "Nazi" tactics in a TV interview in the USA the night before.
One official called for peaceful resistance to protect the buildings. Jordi Sanchez, president of the pro-independence ANC (Catalan National Assembly) also tweeted that police were entering the Economy ministry and vice-presidency. "He did not have to wait long", the BBC reports.
A man suspected of supporting the Catalan independence referendum is grabbed by police. "We will not allow it". He also called for activists to take to the streets.
Catalonia's separatist leaders want the region's 7.5 million inhabitants - who are deeply divided over the issue - to be able to answer the question: "Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?"