Madrid (AFP) - As Catalonia's independence crisis deepens, here are the key events that have rocked the region since this month's referendum on splitting from Spain.
- October 1: Violence-hit referendum -
Hundreds of thousands of Catalans vote in an independence referendum that goes ahead despite a court ban deeming it unconstitutional.
Spanish riot police try to block the vote. Shocking footage emerges of them using batons and rubber bullets on crowds and roughing up voters.
The Catalan government says 90 percent of those who voted backed independence, but turnout was only 43 percent as many who oppose a split boycotted the referendum.
- October 3: General strike -
A general strike called by unions and political groups disrupts Barcelona's port, transport and some businesses. Up to 700,000 people demonstrate in the city against police violence, defending the right to vote.
King Felipe VI accuses Catalan leaders of threatening Spain's stability and urges the state to defend "constitutional order".
- October 5: Business exodus begins -
Banco Sabadell, Catalonia's second largest bank, announces it will shift its registered domicile out of the region. Nearly 1,200 companies follow suit in a bid to minimise instability.
- October 7-8: Mass protests -
Tens of thousands of people demonstrate across Spain on October 7, some demanding unity, others demanding dialogue.
The next day hundreds of thousands march in Barcelona to back unity with Spain.
- October 10: 'Suspended' independence declaration
In a move that sparks widespread confusion, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and his separatist allies sign a declaration of independence, but say they are suspending its implementation to allow for time for negotiations with Madrid.
The next day, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gives Puigdemont until October 16 to clarify his stance.
- October 16: Separatist leaders detained -
Puigdemont refuses to say whether he had declared independence and instead calls for dialogue. Madrid gives him an extended deadline of October 19 to say whether he is planning to secede.
A court orders the leaders of two powerful grassroots independence groups, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, to be detained pending an investigation into sedition charges.
Their detention prompts tens of thousands to protest in Barcelona the following night.
- October 21: Spain to sack Catalan government, force elections -
Rajoy takes drastic steps to stop Catalonia breaking away, employing previously unused constitutional powers to seek the dismissal of Puigdemont's government and new elections for the Catalan parliament. The Senate is due to approve the measures by the end of next week.
Some 450,000 people join a separatist protest in Barcelona, with Puigdemont accusing Rajoy of "the worst attack on institutions and Catalan people" since Spain's dictatorship.