700 Catalan mayors back holding independence vote

More than 700 mayors from Catalonia are meeting in Barcelona in a show of strength amid pressure from Spain's central government not to hold an independence referendum for the northeastern region that has been deemed illegal by the courts.

Political tensions in Spain are increasing as the proposed voting date of Oct. 1 nears. The Catalan government has been scrambling to push forward the vote, despite the central government's warnings that local municipalities are not allowed to use public buildings for it and mayors can be legally prosecuted for it.

Hundreds of mayors stood Saturday next to regional President Carles Puigdemont and Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau.

Puigdemont thanked them for not backing down and insisted that most Catalans are determined to press ahead with the referendum despite the ban.