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Thousands march for Spanish unity in Barcelona one day after violent pro-independence protests

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Thousands march for Spanish unity in Barcelona one day after violent pro-independence protests
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Around 80,000 people rallied in Barcelona on Sunday in support of Spanish unity.

Politicians from the left, right and centre attended the demonstration organised by the Catalan Civil Society Association, which says it wants to rebuild Catalonia in a peaceful way.

"I am from Linares, my sons are from Catalonia, I've lived here all my life," said one man, "no one loves Catalonia more than I do. I love Catalonia, Linares and I'm Spanish, but I am not a separatist because I don't want barriers."

"Not only one part (of Catalonia) is valid," added this woman. "If the Catalonia regional government does not represent the rest of Catalans we have to take to the street and say we are here. Not only one part is valid, we all make up Catalonia".

The central government in Madrid was represented by Spain's acting foreign minister, Josep Borrell.

"This violence is damaging Barcelona and Catalonia very much," Borrell told reporters. "It's essential we take the path of a pacific coexistence. Without it, there's no solution to the political problems we have."

On Saturday night a rally organised by a pro-independence direct action group descended into clashes as protesters targeted the police headquarters.

Stones and bottles were thrown at officers who responded with batons and shields.

The incidents marred a largely peaceful demonstration earlier in the day when around 350,000 people marched in support of jailed Catalan separatist leaders.