Reuters, Barcelona : Catalonia should hold a new vote on independence from Spain within two years, the head of the region's government said on Thursday in a fresh challenge to Madrid following days of unrest by pro-separatist protesters. Nearly 100 people were injured across the northeastern region on Wednesday in a third day of violence after Spain's Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan leaders to lengthy jail terms over their failed effort to secure independence, with a referendum Madrid ruled was illegal, in 2017. Cars and rubbish bins were torched in the Catalan capital Barcelona overnight and Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said 97 protesters had been arrested since the outbreak of some of the worst violence seen in Spain in years. Related Coverage Grande-Marlaska said security reinforcements would be sent in with further protests planned for Friday, when unions have called a strike and protesters from around the region are due to converge on Barcelona, one of Europe's top tourist cities. Addressing the Catalan parliament, pro-independence regional chief Quim Torra criticized the rioting, saying the separatist cause was a peaceful movement. But he also pushed the case for forging ahead with the stalled secessionist drive, saying Monday's sentences would not deter a new vote on independence. "We'll return to the ballot box again on self-determination," he said. "If all parties and groups make it possible, we have to be able to finish this legislative term by validating independence," he added. The regional parliament's term expires in December 2021.
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