Nine police injured in Stuttgart 21 clash

21 June 2011

Nine police were injured after clashes on Monday night between police and anti-Stuttgart 21 protesters who had stormed the controversial rail project, authorities announced.

Eight officers suffered blast injuries when “TNT-bangers” – homemade firecrackers – were detonated near a police cordon. A ninth officer suffered unspecified injuries while trying to control the protests. Several demonstrators were arrested.

The site itself had “considerable damage,” after the attack, according to a police spokesman. The protesters had torn down a fence, let the air out of construction vehicle tyres and covered them with anti-Stuttgart-21 stickers, among other actions.

Around 400 protesters had gathered at the site Monday night, although they dispersed in the early hours. A group of protesters later attempted to block the entrance to the construction site but they left when ordered to do so by police.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many people had attacked the officers although police said several protesters had been arrested.

The incident followed a day of peaceful demonstrations, during which around 3,000 people rallied against the project.

Politicians called on protesters to refrain from violence.

“Violence will not hurt Stuttgart 21, but the protests against it,” said Winfried Hermann, the minister for transport in the state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg.

Stuttgart 21 consists of a massive construction effort, involving rebuilding the city’s main train station underground and turning it around 90 degrees, as well as laying 57 kilometres of new tracks. The aim is to make the city a major European rail hub.

But opponents mounted massive protests against the project last year, calling it too expensive and unnecessary. In October, more than 100 demonstrators were injured in a violent clash with police.

The demonstration was followed by lengthy talks between state officials, national rail provider Deutsche Bahn and Stuttgart 21 opponents. But officials ultimately decided to go ahead with the project after making a few minor changes to plans.

Some believed the state’s new left-leaning government would more strongly challenge the project because the Greens opposed it before the the election, but they have so far failed to do so.

But state leaders have promised citizens will have the opportunity to vote on the future of the project, probably in the autumn.

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