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Hundreds Injured As Police Try To Stop Catalan Independence Vote

Catalonia faced a massive security response from Spanish officials as it tried to hold a long-awaited independence referendum on Sunday.

At least 760 people were injured when Spanish police and security forces tried to prevent Catalans from voting.

Authorities donned riot gear, confiscated ballot boxes, shot residents with rubber bullets and dragged voters from the polls.

Catalonia is one of the wealthiest regions in Spain. The autonomous region has its own distinct language and culture. Catalans say the Spanish government is benefiting from the region's prosperity but not allowing its citizens political freedom.

SEE MORE: Iraqi Kurds Overwhelmingly Support Independence In Referendum

It's a fight that, in some ways, goes all the way back to the 1700s, when King Philip V of Spain captured Catalonia's capital, Barcelona, spurring Catalans to seek independence. 

They made some progress, but in 1939 Spanish dictator Francisco Franco began attempting to eradicate Catalan nationalism, and with it the Catalan language and institutions.

He killed thousands of its citizens. But when he died in 1975, the fight for independence began again.

As of Sunday afternoon, referendum results hadn't been officially released. But both the Catalans and the Spanish government are declaring some forms of early victory.

The Spanish government declared the referendum unconstitutional prior to the vote and now says it was successfully disrupted.

But the Catalan president said the Spanish State has "lost a lot more than it had already lost, and Catalan citizens have won a lot more than they had won until now."

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