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Anti-coal protesters claim victory in German power plant demonstration

Protest organizers in Brandenburg have dubbed their blockade a success for forcing a lignite power plant to reduce its output. Though mostly peaceful, police reported arrests and clashes between protesters and security.

Environmental activists ended a multi-day power station blockade at the Schwarze Pumpe - or "Black Pump" - lignite power station in the eastern German state of Brandenburg on Sunday, hailing the campaign as a victory.

The weekend campaign "has exceeded all our expectations," anti-coal and anti-nuclear coalition "Ende Gelände" said on Sunday after a 48-hour blockade outside the city of Cottbus.

According to police, several railway tracks were still being occupied and authorities were preparing to remove the protesters.

Over the weekend, activists managed to isolate the power plant for 24 hours and block the Welzow-Süd open pit mine and coal-loading station for 48 hours.

The plant was forced to reduce its power output, with activists noting that one of the Schwarze Pumpe blocks was "completely shut down" for a time.

"The symbolism of a total shutdown would have also been nice, but we have also achieved our political goals," activist Tadzio Müller told German news agency dpa.

By Sunday evening, coal trains starting arriving at the Schwarze Pumpe plant once again, said Swedish company Vattenfall, which operates the plant.

Hundreds arrested

German police said they arrested 120 protesters after around 300 people forced their way onto the Schwarze Pumpe site late on Saturday. Authorities said the group tore down fences and attacked Vattenfall security guards.

Two of the activists were injured during the ensuing arrests and taken to the hospital. Most of those detained were released throughout Sunday.

However, an Ende Gelände spokeswoman claimed that police officers started the violence after protesters attempted to leave the site.

"I am not aware that activists started the violence," the spokeswoman said, adding that pro-coal counterdemonstrators also attacked the environmental activists.

Organizers said up to 2,000 people took part in the weekend demonstration, which was part of the "Break Free" campaign launched by environmentalist groups to oppose the use of fossil fuels.

Germany, which plans to close all the country's nuclear power plants by 2022, still relies on burning coal for 42 percent of its electricity.

Watch video 01:28

Anti-coal protesters block German power station

rs/sms (AP, AFP, dpa)

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