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Police swarm into Hambach forest to take on environmental campaigners

HUNDREDS of police swarmed into the Hambach forest near Aachen in western Germany yesterday to take on environmental protesters occupying it.

The forest is home to an opencast coal mine and its owner, energy company RWE, plans to fell another 100 hectares in order to mine for lignite, a low-grade coal.

Environmental campaigners have set up tree houses in the woods, some of which have been inhabited now for six years.

Police did not raid the tree houses but cleared material they said could be used to make barricades. They said they were there to protect RWE employees removing logs which had been placed to prevent forest clearance.

North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul has derided the eco-protesters as “extremely violent left-wing extremists,” although no confrontations were reported yesterday and no arrests made.

“When the day comes” for RWE to start mining, the police will need to be able to enforce its right to do so, he said.

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