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Separatists claim victory in crucial Catalonia regional election

The party of ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has claimed victory for the separatist bloc in the regional election.

Agusti Alcoberro, vice president of Catalan National Assembly, said: "We can say that pro-independence forces have won the elections."

He told a crowd gathered in Barcelona's Maritime Museum that "we demand the restitution of the (Catalan) government and the release of the political prisoners".

Spain's government deposed Catalonia's regional government after the Catalan parliament made an illegal declaration of independence on October 27.

A judge also imprisoned the then president of the Catalan National Assembly, Jordi Sanchez.

He resigned his post to run in the election.

Elsa Artadi, the campaign manager for the party of fugitive Mr Puigdemont, claimed the win for Together for Catalonia, ERC and CUP, the three separatist forces which would take 70 of 135 seats in provisional results.

Marta Rovira of the left republican ERC party also made a similar claim.

But the figures also show that an upstart unionist party topped the ballot.

The anti-independence Ciutadans (Citizens) party got 37 seats on Thursday, with nearly 99% of the votes counted.

It remains to be seen if the parties who pushed ahead with a banned independence referendum can agree now to form a new government but either way the result is likely to keep political tensions high in Spain.

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