German police move to clear coal mine protesters in flashpoint village

German police pressed ahead on Wednesday with clearing a camp of anti-coal activists in an abandoned town which has become emblematic of the country's struggle to transition away from fossil fuels amid an energy crisis.

Once numbering as many as 2,000, around 200 anti-coal activists remain in the western German village of Luetzerath, which has been slated for demolition to enable the expansion of the neighbouring Garzweiler coal mine.

Early on Wednesday, hundreds of police tightened a perimeter around the protest camp before sunrise to prevent anyone from entering, before moving in at 8 am (0700 GMT) to the sound of alarms set off by the demonstrators, which warned that the next stage of the forced evacuation had begun.

"They took the first aid team out of the camp by force," Mara Sauer, a spokesperson for the activists, told AFP. "Only some were able to stay in hiding."

Draped in emergency blankets to stave off the cold, some of those remaining clung to trees and other built structures high up away from the police.

Others have climbed to the top of abandoned buildings and barns, where they used loudspeakers to lead chants against the police along with songs of encouragement for their fellow activists.

In sometimes surreal scenes, police sought to coax several activists tied inside concrete barrels to give up their resistance, as a violinist gave an impromptu concert from the roof of an abandoned house.

"We can't untie them, not today anyway. For that, we need special shears" one police officer told AFP.

"We have other things to do at the moment, one thing at a time," another said.

Clearing operation may last weeks


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