UPDATE: Chaos, clashes and hundreds of reported injuries after Catalans go to the polls in vote that could split Spain
By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
Photos and videos from across Spain as Catalonia casts its contested referendum ballots
MADRID (MarketWatch) -- Battle lines were being drawn on Sunday in Spain, as chaotic scenes emerged with hundreds reported injured after a banned independence vote in a wealthy northeastern region of the country whose heart is the city of Barcelona.
Some in Catalonia, or Catalunya in the Catalan language, had spent Saturday night at one of the more than 2,000 schools that had been set up as polling stations in the region. But by early Sunday, it was clear that the Spanish government was as determined to stop the voting as those voters were to follow through with the referendum. Clashes persisted throughout the day.
In recent days the government has sent in thousands of extra police, seized ballot boxes, arrested officials and shut down relevant websites.
The defiant Catalan government on Sunday attempted to facilitate voting by allowing a ballot to be cast at any available polling station, using even blank pieces of paper instead of preprinted ballots. The regional government has said it will declare independence if a "yes" majority emerges from the 5.4 million eligible voters. It's not clear how many residents of the region were able to cast a ballot, with the polls now closed and the counting underway.
In several spots in the region, chaos gave way even before voting got underway, as national police officers clashed with those keeping vigil at polls, and those trying to vote, as well as in the streets.