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Two arrested in Catalonia said they were making explosives - source

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MADRID (Reuters) – Two men arrested on suspicion of plotting violent acts in the cause of Catalan independence have told Spanish investigators they were making and testing explosives, a source linked to the investigation said on Thursday.

The two men were among seven detained in the Spanish region on Monday – prosecutors said they were planning attacks in the coming weeks.

It was not immediately possible to contact the men or any lawyers representing them.

Any use of explosives by supporters of Catalan secession would mark a sharp change in tactics.

The cause has posed a major challenge for Spain for years and triggered the country’s biggest political crisis in decades in 2017 when the region briefly declared independence. But campaigners have made their case through mass protests and political action, not attacks.

The source told Reuters two of the arrested had told investigators they bought chemical components to make explosives and carried out tests in a quarry.

Investigators have a video showing some of the activists carrying out tests of the explosives, the source said.

Prosecutors for Spain’s high court have called for the seven to face charges of terrorism and possessing explosives. The seven were expected to appear in court on Thursday where a judge would decide whether to formally make those charges.

Prosecutors have said the violent acts were planned for some time between the anniversary of Catalonia’s Oct. 1, 2017, independence referendum and the announcement of the verdict in a trial of separatist leaders in Madrid – widely expected in the first half of October.

(Reporting by Ashifa Kassam, Paola Luelmo and Emma Pinedo; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Andrew Heavens)

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