Spanish police on Monday arrested nine activists linked to pro-Catalan independence groups on suspicion that they were preparing to commit violent acts, possibly with explosives, and Spanish prosecutors called for charges of rebellion and terrorism to be brought against them.
A statement from the Guardia Civil, the Spanish national police, said the operation in the province of Barcelona was part of an investigation by the Defense Committees of the Republic, a grassroots organization that supports Catalonia's independence from Spain. In the past, the group organized street protests and blocked road and rail lines.
Police said they carried out 10 attacks and seized an abundance of materials and substances that they believed could be used to produce explosives.
If confirmed, it would be a blow to the Catalan independence movement, which has prided itself on its overwhelming and peaceful approach since it began to gain momentum in 2011.
Prosecutors at the National Court said the attacks aimed to gather evidence to demonstrate "the CDD's advanced preparation for terrorist acts in connection with its secessionist goals."
The police statement gave few details, saying there was a general order of judicial secrecy in the case.
And police did not say when the group could be planning acts of violence. Major protests in Catalonia are expected in the coming weeks when Spain's Supreme Court issues its verdict in the trial of 12 former Catalan authorities and activists accused of trying to establish an independent Catalan republic in 2017.
Prosecutors said the operation was aimed at disrupting the expected CDD. activities around the anniversary of October 1, 2017, independence referendum, declared illegal by the Spanish government and courts in Catalonia and publication of the verdict of the trial. They said the CDD's activities could have caused "irreparable damage, given the advanced state of its preparations."
The C.D.R. issued a statement saying the arrests and raids were an attempt to "silence" them and called for protests against what they described as Spanish state repression. In response, more than 100 people gathered in the Catalan city of Sabadell and shouted insults at the police carrying out one of the attacks.
Spain's two main center-right parties welcomed the police operation, while two Catalan pro-independence parties demanded Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlaska appear in parliament to explain the operation.
Catalonia's pro-independence regional president, Quim Torra, criticized the arrests.
"Repression remains the only response from the Spanish state," he said. tweeted. “They are trying to build a tale of violence before the sentences. They will not succeed. The independence movement is, and always will be, peaceful. "