New attack against coal plans at Germany′s Hambach Forest | News | DW | 25.12.2018
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New attack against coal plans at Germany's Hambach Forest

Masked assailants have again struck at the security camp belonging to energy group RWE in Germany's Hambach Forest. Activists have occupied the area against clearance plans that would allow a coal mine to be enlarged.

People wearing masks and hoodies early on Tuesday attacked German energy group RWE's security camp in the Hambach Forest, near Cologne, police said.

Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at the building, and two vehicles were set alight, including a fire engine. Other cars were damaged. Police said the perpetrators then fled into the forest.

An investigation has been opened into several crimes, including assault and battery, intentional arson, and a serious breach of the peace.

Read more: German cities urged to ban polluting fireworks at New Year

Tuesday's attack follows a similar incident last week, which saw around 20 attackers throw stones using catapults at the building. An RWE employee received a head injury when one of the rocks hit him.

Demands for coal phase-out

Hambach has been the scene of a months-long standoff between environmental activists and authorities over plans to clear the forest to enlarge a nearby open-pit coal mine, owned by RWE.

RWE insists the clearance must proceed so that future power supplies can be guaranteed.

Campaigners say Germany remains too reliant on coal for electricity generation, despite promises to phase out the worst polluting fossil fuels. They say 90 percent of the forest has already been cleared and that the energy giant plans to clear half of the remaining woodland.

Read more: Germany's coal mining town that became an environmental trailblazer

In September and October, police began a large-scale operation to remove the protesters who had set up their camp inside the forest over several years.

Protest against their removal drew support from environmental activists from all over the world.

In October, the senior administrative court in Münster ruled that the clearance should be put on hold temporarily.

Several hard-core activists are spending Christmas and New Year in the forest, and in the days before the festive period were appealing on social media for fresh supplies, saying that police had destroyed their kitchen and sleeping spaces.

mm/jm (AFP, DPA)

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