THE president of Spain's Catalonia region has signed a decree calling for a referendum on independence to be held on November 9, putting the local government on a collision course with Madrid, which says such a vote is illegal.
The wealthy northeastern region, which accounts for around a fifth of Spain's economy, has its own language and distinct culture and has long fought for self-rule. The region's president, Artur Mas, signed the decree yesterday in Barcelona, surrounded by his government and political allies. "Catalonia wants to speak. Wants to be heard. Wants to vote. Now is the right time and we have the right legal framework to do so," Mr Mas said in a speech in Catalan, Spanish and English.
A Ukrainian security official said one serviceman and one civilian have been killed as rebels in the east continue attacks, despite a ceasefire declared three weeks ago.
Volodymyr Polyoviy, a spokesman for Ukraine's national security council, said the civilian died and 16 others were wounded in rebel mortar fire on the town of Shchastya, damaging the local hospital and a vocational school. He also said one serviceman was killed and eight wounded in the past day.
Greece's main opposition, the anti-bailout Syriza party, has widened its lead over the ruling conservatives, a poll showed yesterday, amid rising speculation that a presidential vote early next year may lead to early elections.
The survey showed Syriza leading with 11 percentage points over Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' New Democracy party, up from 7 points in a July poll.
A volcano in central Japan erupted yesterday, killing one woman and seriously injuring more than 30 people.
The mountain draws walkers who come to admire the autumn colours on the trees. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the volcano, Mount Ontake, located 200 kilometres west of Tokyo, erupted just before midday and sent ash pouring down the mountain's south slope for more than three kilometres. About 230 hikers had made their way down the mountain, while 41 people remained stranded.
A former actress who later became the top elected official in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu was sentenced yesterday to four years in prison after a court found her guilty of corruption, in a case filed 18 years ago.
Jayaram Jayalalitha will step down as chief minister of Tamil Nadu after the court in Bangalore found her guilty of possessing wealth disproportionate to her income. She will also be disqualified from contesting elections for six years.
Riot police in Hong Kong arrested dozens of students who stormed the government headquarters compound during a night of scuffles to protest China's refusal to allow genuine democratic reforms in the semi-autonomous city.
Hundreds of other protesters, however, showed no sign of leaving and chanted at police to release their colleagues. At least 29 people have been injured and 61 arrested since Friday night, police said.