Police started dismantling barricades and evicting anti-coal protesters occupying the abandoned German mining village of Lutzerath, triggering clashes with the climate activists.
Hundreds of protesters have occupied the site for more than two years in an attempt to prevent new mining in the area.
Police began dismantling parts of the camp Wednesday after a court order to evict the protesters came into effect.
The activists, some of whom have built treehouses in an attempt to avoid eviction, responded to the intervention by throwing fireworks and rocks towards police.
Protesters are attempting to block the expansion of the open-cast Garzweiler lignite mine, operated by German energy company RWE. They moved into the village of Lutzerath, near the Dutch border, whose residents were relocated.
RWE plans to bulldoze the remaining buildings in the town for the mine’s construction.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered an energy crisis across Europe. In an attempt to secure an alternative fuel source to Russian gas, Germany’s government has approved short-term coal use.
Its move to green-light the mine’s expansion runs counter to promises by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition to phase out coal.
Speaking to the Guardian, an unnamed activist from Berlin said: “We have the willpower to stay here for as long as it takes, and provisions to last us for at least six weeks. We don’t talk about the risk to our lives, we’re beyond thinking that, but I know that everyone here has it in the back of their minds but thinks inaction would be much, much worse.”