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Catalan referendum: Spanish king accuses 'disloyal' separatists of breaking law

•, Caroline Mortimer

Spain's King Felipe has accused the Catalan government of an "inadmissible lack of loyalty" over the independence referendum which has lead to the worst constitutional crisis since the Civil War.

Giving a rare address to parliament, the royal called for calm but accused Barcelona of behaving "irresponsibly" by holding a referendum on independence which had been declared illegal by Madrid.

His intervention followed a 24-hour strike in Catalonia in protest at police brutality against people going to vote at polling stations which left nearly 900 people injured. 

Members of the Civil Guard, a central police force bussed in from Madrid, fired rubber bullets at crowds of protesters and were seen beating and throwing voters downstairs as they went to the polling booths.

Defending the actions of the Madrid government, the King said they had a duty to maintain the rule of law in the region and said the situation was "very serious" but believed the country "will overcome difficult times".

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