More than 20 lakh Catalans, or 90.9% of those who voted, have backed the call for independence from Spain, the Catalonia government said on Sunday. The turnout for the referendum, which was marred by violence and had been declared illegal by the Spanish government, was 42.3%, BBC reported.

“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,” AFP quoted Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont as saying. However, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that there was no “self-determination referendum in Catalonia” on Sunday. Rajoy said the process “only served to sow division, push citizens to confrontation and the streets to revolt”. It, however, left the door open for negotiations on greater autonomy for the region, he added.

Catalonia’s leader said his government was determined to take its cause forward. “In the next few days [we] will send the results of today’s vote to the Catalan parliament, where the sovereignty of our people lies, so that it can act in accordance with the law of the referendum.” He said the European Union could no longer “continue to look the other way”, The Guardian reported.

At least 92 people were confirmed injured of the total 844 who needed medical attention, Catalan authorities said, after the Spanish Police used force in their attempt to block the voting. Spain’s Interior Ministry said that at least 19 police officers and 14 civil guards were injured in the violence that had erupted.

The rift

Tensions between the Spanish central government and Catalonia have been high since the Madrid blocked Barcelona’s planned referendum. On September 6, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont signed a decree that called for a “self-determination referendum of Catalonia”. But the next day, Spain’s Constitutional Court suspended the referendum after a legal challenge by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who said it was contrary to the Constitution.