Hundreds gather ahead of pro-Spain rally in Barcelona

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BARCELONA, Spain – Hundreds of people are gathering in downtown Barcelona ahead of a rally to protest the Catalan government's push for secession from the rest of Spain.

Many in the crowd forming in a central square are carrying Spanish and Catalan flags.

Sunday's rally comes a week after separatist leaders of the Catalan government held a referendum on secession that Spain's top court had suspended and the Spanish government said was illegal.

The referendum was won by the "Yes" side, though less than half of the region's electorate voted. Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has pledged to push ahead for independence.

Nobel Literature Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa and former president of the European Parliament Josep Borrell are expected to address Sunday's rally.

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