Huge Catalan march in Brussels to ‘wake up Europe’

Pro-independence Catalans from all over Europe take part in a rally showing their support to ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his government in Brussels on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 07 December 2017
0

Huge Catalan march in Brussels to ‘wake up Europe’

BRUSSELS: A sea of around 45,000 pro-Catalonia protesters demonstrated in Brussels on Thursday to show support for the region’s deposed president Carles Puigdemont and urge the EU to support its drive for independence from Spain.
Demonstrators chanted “Wake up Europe!” and waved Catalonia’s red, yellow and blue Estelada separatist flag as they marched past the European Union headquarters in the Belgian capital.
“We cannot abandon our president, who is in exile here,” Antoni Llenas, 59, a protester wearing a flag over his shoulders, told AFP. “We are here to continue the struggle for our independence and to ask for the freedom of our political prisoners.”
Belgian police said on Twitter that there were an estimated 45,000 protesters, more than double the 20,000 that organizers said they originally expected. The rally began peacefully, according to AFP reporters on the scene.
Puigdemont and four former ministers fled to Brussels in November, saying they wanted to take their cause to the European level after Spain charged them with sedition and rebellion over Catalonia’s independence referendum in October.
On Monday, the Spanish government dropped a European arrest warrant for the five, but Puigdemont said he would stay put for now as they still face arrest in Spain if they return for regional polls in Catalonia that Madrid has called for Dec. 21.
Protesters arrived in a stream of coaches and camper vans with Spanish registration plates, and gathered in the Cinquantenaire Park in the city’s European quarter before the start of the march at 1030 GMT.
Children and families were among those who began the march in high spirits despite the cold and rain.
Their route is taking them past the headquarters of the European Commission and they will end up in a square between the European Council and European Parliament.
The EU has strongly backed the Spanish government over the Catalan issue, saying that it is an internal matter for Madrid.


Gunmen kill 4 civilians in mosque in Afghanistan

Updated 33 min 20 sec ago
0

Gunmen kill 4 civilians in mosque in Afghanistan

  • Three people, including the mosque’s religious leader, were wounded in the attack
  • No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but both the Taliban and Daesh militants are active

KABUL, Afghanistan: An Afghan official says gunmen opened fire on worshippers inside a mosque in eastern Nangarhar province, killing four people.
Attahullah Khogyani, the provincial governor’s spokesman, says three people, including the mosque’s religious leader, were wounded in the attack, which took place on Sunday evening in the district of Surkh Rod.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but both the Taliban and Daesh militants are active in eastern Afghanistan, especially in Nangarhar province.
Earlier on Sunday, a Daesh suicide bomber struck near the Kabul airport, killing 14 people and narrowly missing Afghanistan’s vice president, who was returning home after living in Turkey for over a year.
Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former Uzbek warlord, and his entourage were unharmed, but 50 other people were wounded.