Prosecutors said members of a pro-independence group were in "advanced preparation for terrorist acts." If confirmed, it would mark a major shift in what has been a largely peaceful Catalan nationalist movement.
Spanish police on Monday arrested nine members of a pro-Catalan independence group that prosecutors charged with terrorism and rebellion for allegedly planning violent acts.
The raids targeted several properties in the region as part of an investigation into the Committees for the Defense of the Republic, a group promoting Catalonia's independence from Spain, the Civil Guard police said.
In the past, the group organized street protests and blocked transportation.
The Spanish High Court's prosecutors said in a statement the raids were intended to collect evidence to prove the group's "advanced preparation for terrorist acts in connection with their secessionist aims."
They provided no further information about the target or timing of the alleged attack plans, but police said they seized computers, documents and materials that could be used to make explosives.
Catalonia's pro-independence regional president, Quim Torra, criticized the arrests.
"Repression continues to be the sole response of the Spanish state," Torra tweeted. "They are trying to construct a tale of violence prior to the sentences. They won't achieve it. The independence movement is, and always will be, peaceful."
The Committees for the Defense of the Republic denounced the detentions on Twitter and called for protests in multiple towns, including Sabadell, where the arrests were made.
The raids come as large protests are expected in the coming weeks to mark the two-year anniversary of the October 1 Catalan independence referendum. The plebiscite was in favor of independence, but the government in Madrid called it illegal.
Shortly after, a verdict is expected in the trial against 12 pro-independence leaders that could bring tens of thousands of angry supporters out onto the streets.
Catalonia's pro-independence movement has been mostly peaceful, unlike the Basque separatist ETA that carried out years of violence until ending their fight in 2018.
cw/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)