Rail protesters clash with police in Italy

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 03, 2011 11:28 AM
Rail protesters clash with police in Italy

TURIN, Italy (Reuters) - More than 50 people were injured on Sunday when protesters opposed to a high-speed train line linking Italy to France threw stones and firecrackers at police during tense clashes in an Alpine valley.

Thousands of people joined mainly peaceful marches in the Susa valley, near Turin, to try to prevent the building of a tunnel they say would damage the environment.

At least 46 police officers and five protesters were injured in scuffles close to the construction site, following injuries in similar clashes earlier this week.

Police arrested at least five people and used teargas in an attempt to disperse hundreds of protesters near the enclosure, although some managed to breach the site fences.

France and Italy signed a deal in 2001 to build the high-speed line and open a more modern, faster transport link between two of Europe's biggest economies.

Villagers in the valley have strongly opposed the 15-billion-euro ($21.3 billion) project, which is supported by the government and the local administration.

The movement opposing high-speed rail has grown beyond the local area, winning support from a range of groups, from anarchists to Catholics.

Police said many of the people involved in the clashes on Sunday were using the rally as an opportunity for violence and several had come from abroad.

(Writing by Catherine Hornby; Editing by Jon Boyle)