Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Protests Friday against a Spanish council of ministers meeting in Barcelona injured 12 police officers and resulted in 11 arrests, authorities said.
The first protests started immediately after talks Thursday between Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Catalan President Quim Torra to agree to work on dialogue and advance Catalonian demands in the framework of the Spanish legal system.
The protests by Catalan independence activists continued Friday and led to confrontations in the city's Drassanes area, where activists threw stones, bottles, paint and other objects, Vanguardia reported. Seven people were arrested.
The activists oppose the presence of Spanish central government officials in the region.
Most other arrests were made in the Llotja de Mar area, where the ministers session took place. There were other confrontations on an avenue known as Via Laietana, where one demonstrator was caught carrying materials for making Molotov cocktails.
Images Friday show several roads blocked with tires and metal fences, as well as police charging against protesters. The confrontations led to medical treatment for at least 32 people, 20 of whom were police, Vanguardia added.
A report by Rtve said about 9,000 police were deployed in Barcelona to secure the meeting, and transit in many areas of the city had been blocked in anticipation of protests.
The council of ministers announced Friday some decisions that were only symbolic for Catalonia, El Pais reported -- including condemnation of the 1940 execution of former Catalan President Lluis Companys, as well as a decision to rename the airport to honor another former Catalan leader.
Tensions have increased since October 2017 when Catalonia held a referendum on independence the Madrid government declared illegal. The pro-independence movement used the vote to declare independence from Spain. Madrid replied by ousting Catalan leaders and imposing a direct rule. A judge in Spain issued arrest warrants against several leaders.
Former Catalonia President Carles Puigdemont, who was also the first to refuse the oath of loyalty to the Kingdom of Spain, has been living in Belgium for a year to avoid arrest in Spain. He was replaced by Torra after he went into exile.
The region became part of the kingdom of Spain in the 15th century when Ferdinand of Aragon, who was from the region, married Isabel de Castille. However, Catalonia continued to use its own language. The drive for independence grew stronger after former Spanish Prime Minister Francisco Franco took away the region's autonomy and tried to prohibit the use of Catalan language.
Catalonia has one of the highest economic developments in all of Spain.