Thousands gather around Catalonia to show support for 1 October independence referendum that Madrid has vowed to stop

Catalan independence campaigners have held rallies across the region, distributing a million ballot papers a week before people are set to vote in a sovereignty referendum that the Spanish government has vowed to stop.

Thousands of people congregated in city and town squares around Catalonia on Sunday to show their support for the vote as tensions between the pro-independence regional government and the Spanish state continued to rise.

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