THE leader of Catalonia has said Spain is showing a "totalitarian attitude" with the arrests of Catalan officials and civil servants, and vowed to go ahead with an independence referendum despite legal warnings not to do so.

Carles Puigdemont appeared with members of his cabinet following several arrests in an ongoing operation by Civil Guard agents.

Those arrested include a top official managing the region's economic affairs.

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Mr Puigdemont said the police operations are unlawful and are aimed at preventing Catalans from voting on October 1.

The vote has been suspended by Spain's Constitutional Court while judges consider the central government's claims that it is illegal.

Mr Puigdemont added that the central authorities moves amount to a "de facto" suspension of Catalonia's self-rule.