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Catalan separatists clash with police during general strike which brings hundreds...


Catalan separatists have clashed with police today as hundreds of thousands of pro-independence supporters pour into Barcelona on a general strike.

As the angry demonstrations entered their fifth day, activists blocked a string of roads in the wealthy northeastern region, cutting off the main cross-border highway with France.

Workers were also downing tools in a mass show of dissent over Monday's Supreme Court verdict in which the separatist leaders were handed long jail terms over a banned referendum and an abortive independence declaration two years ago.

Concerns over security amid the disruption have forced organisers to postpone next week's 'El Clásico' match between Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona. 

The league's organising body made an official request to the federation this week for the game to be rearranged, which was approved on Friday. 

Barcelona and Madrid now have until Monday to decide on a new date for the match.  

As well as the strike, several thousands of people were due to end a three-day march to Barcelona from five regional towns in another coordinated move aimed at causing chaos on roads and highways in a region that accounts for about a fifth of Spain's economic output.

It comes as fugitive ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont handed himself in to Belgian justice authorities after Spain issued a new warrant for his arrest following the sentencing of 12 of his former colleagues.

Mr Puigdemont's office said that he, 'in the company of his lawyers, voluntarily appeared before Belgian authorities' in relation to the arrest warrant.