The jet crashed after performing in Spain's national day parade. Spain celebrated the day during an ongoing crisis with Catalonia. In the meantime, several rallies were taking place on the streets of Madrid and Barcelona.

The Spanish Air Force's aerobatic display team the Patrulla Aguila (Eagle Patrol) take part in a flypast as part of celebrations to mark Spain's National Day in Madrid, Spain October 12, 2017.  (Reuters)
The Spanish Air Force's aerobatic display team the Patrulla Aguila (Eagle Patrol) take part in a flypast as part of celebrations to mark Spain's National Day in Madrid, Spain October 12, 2017. (Reuters) (Reuters)

A spokesman with Spain's Ministry of Defence said that a military pilot had died after a fighter jet that was returning from a national day parade crashed in southeastern Spain.

The spokesman said the fighter jet was among four that participated in the parade in Madrid. Speaking anonymously, as its customary among civil servants in Spain, the spokesman said the Eurofighter plane crashed in Llanos de Albacete, a county some 300 km (200 miles) southeast of the Spanish capital.

The spokesman also said the pilot didn't have time to jump out of the jet, adding that the causes of the crash are under investigation.

People shout slogans during Spain's National Day in Barcelona, Spain, October 12, 2017.
People shout slogans during Spain's National Day in Barcelona, Spain, October 12, 2017. (Reuters)

Celebrating national day

Spain marked its national day with a show of unity in the face of Catalan independence efforts, a day after the central government gave the region's separatist leader a deadline to abandon his secession bid.

To mark the national holiday, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and King Felipe VI attended a traditional military parade in central Madrid.

Armed forces marched along Madrid's Paseo de la Castellana boulevard to commemorate the day that Christopher Columbus first arrived in the Americas in 1492.

Separate pro-unity rallies, including one by members of a far-right movement, got underway in the Catalan capital Barcelona.

TRT World spoke to journalist Marah Rayan in Barcelona.

Rally clashes

Two small groups of protesters clashed in central Barcelona as a unionist demonstration of thousands was getting underway, with people throwing chairs at each other before local police separated them.

It was unclear what sparked the violence on Thursday and who was involved.

Footage showed chairs flying in both directions, as Barcelona's urban guard and regional police removed a few dozen protesters on each side.

A nearby demonstration led by a group of civil society groups opposing a separatist bid in Catalonia wasn't disrupted.

A separate protest of around 200 supporters of far-right and Spanish nationalist groups ended on Barcelona's Montjuic hill with speeches and the burning of a "Senyera," the unofficial flag that has become a symbol for Catalan separatists.

Protesters march during an anti-fascism demonstration in Barcelona on October 12, 2017.
Protesters march during an anti-fascism demonstration in Barcelona on October 12, 2017. (AFP)

Rajoy asks for clarity

Spanish PM Rajoy said clarity was required to trigger article 155 that would allow Spain to intervene and take control of some or all of Catalonia's regional powers.

Rajoy issued the demand on Wednesday following a special Cabinet meeting to respond to an announcement from the head of the wealthy Catalonia region that he was proceeding with a declaration of independence. 

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, however, said he was suspending independence for several weeks to facilitate negotiations.

TRT World's Europe Correspondent Simon McGregor-Wood reports.

Puigdemont stopped short of seeking the explicit support of the chamber for the declaration of independence in a vote. The move that would have closed the door to any negotiated solution. 

But his statement has plunged Spain into the unknown.

"I assume the mandate that Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic ... I propose suspending the effects of the declaration of independence to undertake talks to reach an agreed solution," Puigdemont told the regional parliament in Barcelona.

TRT World's correspondent Francis Collings has more on the story from Barcelona.

Speech a 'trick'

In the meantime, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said on Wednesday that the independence speech made by Catalonia's leader was a "trick", although he said there was room for negotiations within the frame of Spain's constitution.

Carles Puigdemont's speech to the Catalan parliament on Tuesday was "a trick to say one thing and do the opposite," Dastis told French radio station Europe 1.

Asked about the possibility of organising another referendum in Catalonia, Dastis said that Spain's constitution does not allow it.

"We cannot accept that a portion of the Catalans decides for the whole of Spain," he said.

Dastis' German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel also commented on the matter saying that the dispute between the Spanish government and the leaders of Catalonia could only be solved through talks based on the Spanish constitution.

"A unilateral declaration of Catalonian independence would be irresponsible," Gabriel said in a statement. "A solution can only be found through talks on the basis of the rule of law and within the framework of the Spanish constitution."

Declaration signed

Puigdemont and other regional politicians also signed a document declaring Catalonia's independence from Spain, but it was unclear if the document would have any legal value.

"Catalonia restores today its full sovereignty," says the document, called "declaration of the representatives of Catalonia."

"We call on all states and international organisations to recognise the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state. We call on the Catalan government to take all necessary measures to make possible and fully effective this declaration of independence and the measures contained in the transition law that founds the republic."

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont told the assembly earlier that the effects of the declaration would be suspended to allow time for talks to reach a negotiated solution to the standoff over the northeastern region.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont told the assembly earlier that the effects of the declaration would be suspended to allow time for talks to reach a negotiated solution to the standoff over the northeastern region. (Reuters)

Madrid unwavering 

The Spanish government in the past it has said that any unilateral declaration of independence would be illegal.

Madrid has also promised to take action "to restore law and democracy" if the parliament of the autonomous and affluent northeastern region presses ahead.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy could take the unprecedented step of dissolving the Catalan parliament and triggering new regional elections, the so-called "nuclear option."

The Madrid government could also ask the courts to strike down a declaration of independence as unconstitutional.

Despite renewed calls for dialogue with Madrid, the proclamation makes a negotiated solution more difficult as Rajoy has said he would not talk to the Catalan leaders until they drop plans for independence.

Anarchists in Athens' Spanish embassy 

Self-proclaimed anarchists burst into the Spanish embassy in Athens on Wednesday and threw leaflets in favour of Catalonian independence, an embassy official said.

The embassy staff evacuated the premises leaving only a few diplomats inside, the official said. There were no reports of damage or injuries.

"About 15 to 20 entered the embassy and threw leaflets. They did not break anything. The leaflet said 'solidarity is the weapon of the people'," the embassy official told Reuters.

The demonstrators unfurled a banner from the roof of the building reading "No Pasaran!" (They Shall Not Pass), a leftist slogan from the Spanish Civil War.

Greek police later detained 19 people, a police official said. Another police official said the group, known as Rouvikonas, had been demonstrating in favour of Catalonian independence.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies