Catalan President blasts Madrid for 'illegal' referendum raids

People holding Catalan flags demonstrate outside the regional government's economic headquarters on Wednesday during a police operation.

(CNN)The Catalan President has accused the Spanish government of imposing a "de facto state of emergency" after national police arrested several senior regional officials in an effort to halt a disputed independence referendum.

Carles Puigdemont said Catalonia had been the "target of a coordinated aggression by the Spanish government's Interior Ministry", hours after police raided a number of Catalan regional government buildings.
Puigdemont blasted the central government, saying "liberties are being suspended and repressed" and arguing that the raids hold "no legal basis." Catalan authorities insist they will defy Madrid and go ahead with the referendum on autonomy for the region on October 1.
    "The Spanish government has overstepped the red line that separated it from authoritarian and repressive regimes and has become a democratic embarrassment," Puigedemont said.
    The dispute between the regional government in Barcelona and the national administration in Madrid has become increasingly bitter in recent weeks.
    Madrid says the referendum is illegal, and argues that any Catalan official who participates in the organization of the vote is acting outside the law.
    The country's Constitutional Court suspended the vote on September 6, after the central government argued that Spain's 1978 constitution declares that the country is indivisible, Reuters reported.
    National authorities have stepped up their efforts to halt the vote in recent days. Officers from Spain's national police force, the Guardia Civil, arrested Catalonia's junior economic minister, Josep Maria Jove, along with eight other officials.
    Police raided three Catalan government buildings -- the Presidency, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- Catalan authorities confirmed to CNN.
    People hold a banner reading "Independence now!" in Catalan at a demonstration on September 11.