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The BBC's Matt Prodger
"The German police are staging what's thought to be their biggest post-war operation"
 real 56k

The BBC's Rob Broomby in Lueneberg
"There is quite a tense stand off"
 real 56k

Monday, 26 March, 2001, 21:49 GMT 22:49 UK
German nuclear activists evicted
Protesters grabbed 400m of track
Protesters vow to prevent the train getting to Gorleben
German riot police have forcibly removed up to 600 anti-nuclear protestors who were staging a sit-in on a railway line in north Germany.

The protesters broke through a police cordon set up to protect the track, which is to be used by a train transporting nuclear waste from France.

A BBC correspondent at the scene, Patrick Bartlett, says there was no violence during the three-hour police operation to clear the line.

The train carrying nuclear waste en route for Germany
Protesters are determined to halt the nuclear waste shipment

The protesters, who were occupying a 400 metre long stretch of track near Lueneburg, were not arrested.

But they were warned that if they were detained again they could face charges.

The train has now arrived in Germany, where it began the last 600 kilometres (375 miles) of its journey to the waste dump at Gorleben at about 2300 (2100 GMT).

The protesters are threatening to step up the action on Tuesday, staging simultaneous attacks at different locations.

Clashes

More than 15,000 German police have been placed on alert to make sure the nuclear waste reaches its destination.

The six nuclear fuel containers left by rail from La Hague in France at first light on Monday.

On another section of the track near the village of Nahrendorf, police clashed with demonstrators.

According to one report, police sources said the track had been damaged by protesters.

A police spokesman said that officers had tried to intervene but the group of protesters fled into nearby woods, throwing flares at police.

In the village of Dahlenburg, police detained around 150 protesters for breaking the ban on activists masking their faces.

Arrest of an anti-nuclear activist near Nahrendorf
Riot police arrest an anti-nuclear activist near Nahrendorf
Earlier, protesters demonstrated at the train's departure from the French town of Valogne, on the Channel coast.

The police operation is the biggest in Germany since World War II.

This is the first nuclear waste shipment to come to Germany since 1997, when pitched battles raged for days between riot police and protesters.

Over the weekend, peaceful demonstrations were held along the route to the storage site.

The looming confrontation at Gorleben follows a highly charged debate in Germany about nuclear power.

Riot police on standby
Riot police on standby in Danneberg
Last year, the coalition government of Social Democrats and Greens struck a deal to phase out nuclear energy.

But the compromise reached with the nuclear industry would allow some reactors to remain in service for more than 20 years - far too long for some anti-nuclear campaigners.

While the government argues that Germany has a moral duty to take back its reprocessed nuclear waste, opponents see disrupting the shipments as the most effective way of forcing an early shutdown of the industry.

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