OFFICERS from Spain’s Guardia Civil have arrested seven people in Catalonia – including a woman the force says is suspected of terrorism – in a crackdown on protests associated with the push for independence.

The woman is said to be Tamara Carrasco, a senior member of the Defence Committees of the Republic (CDR), a network of grassroots pro-independence protest groups.

She was arrested in the town of Viladecans, near Barcelona, and transferred to Madrid’s National Court on charges of terrorism and rebellion.

The charges relate to the peaceful blocking of roads and rail lines and the raising of road toll barriers which the group is thought to have planned and carried out over Easter. A Guardia Civil statement did not explain the legal grounds for the terrorism charge, but some Spanish officials have described the CDR’s actions as sabotage.

Several homes were raided during the arrests, and sources said officers seized cellphones, a computer, external memory, agendas, posters and other information about their barracks in Barcelona.

Elsewhere, the Catalan police force Mossos d’Esquadra detained – but later released – six men on suspicion of committing public disorder offences during protests outside the Catalan parliament on January 30. A crowd gathered that day as MPs tried to elect Carles Puigdemont, the exiled pro-independence leader, as Catalan president. Parliament speaker Roger Torrent postponed the investiture debate after the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled that Puigdemont could not take office from abroad.

The decision sparked outrage among protesters, who broke through a police cordon and encircled the parliament.

The three pro-independence parties in the parliament said the arrests amounted to “judicial persecution” of independence supporters by Spain’s central authorities.

Judicial sources told the daily newspaper Ara that Diego de Egea, a National Court judge, ordered the arrest of a second member of staff, but the Civil Guard could not find them.

Political reaction was swift -–Xavier García Albiol, leader of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party in Catalonia, said the arrests were “gratifying”.

However, at a joint press conference, pro-independence parties accused Spain of “trivialising terrorism”.

Together for Catalonia (JxCat) tweeted that the citizens arrested were “peaceful” and that the police operation was “an unacceptable criminalisation of legitimate protests and a new episode in the persecution of ideas”.

Josep Costa, one of its senior MPs, called the developments “out of control Francoism”.

He said: “In Germany it is suggested that Spanish justice looks like the Turkish one and the National Court rushes to prove it.”

Pablo Iglesias, leader of the left-wing, anti-austerity Podemos party, said that while activists had been arrested, “hundreds of corrupt individuals enjoy impunity”.

He added: “The only thing missing is to accuse them of shooting Kennedy in Dallas.”