Catalans vote in referendum
Catalans vote in referendumReuters

Catalonia's leader Carles Puigdemont said on Sunday night that the region won the right to break away from Spain, as his government claimed that 90 percent of voters backed independence in a referendum that is not recognized by the Spanish government.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declared the Sunday plebiscite had been blocked, saying "today there has not been a self-determination referendum in Catalonia," AFP reported.

At least 92 people were confirmed injured out of a total of 844 who needed medical attention, Catalan authorities said, as police cracked down on the vote, which Spain's central government branded a "farce".

The interior ministry said 33 police officers required treatment as a result of the clashes.

The violence raised alarm abroad and further heightened tensions between Rajoy's government and the authorities in Catalonia in the worst political crisis in Spain in decades.

Rajoy called the vote a process that "only served to sow division, push citizens to confrontation and the streets to revolt", but left the door potentially open to negotiations on greater autonomy for the region, noted AFP.

Puigdemont, who governs Catalonia, said in an address after polls closed, "With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form of a republic."

He urged the European Union to stop looking "the other way" following the police crackdown.

In a press briefing, regional government spokesman Jordi Turull said 2.02 million Catalans voted for independence, or a 42.3 percent turnout.

He added that "90 percent" of the votes cast said “yes”, while 7.8 percent said "no" to the question: "Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?"

A further two percent cast a blank vote, he added, and 0.5 percent of ballots were void.