A total of 12 police officers and at least one protester have been injured as a result of clashes this Saturday in the Maurienne valley, in the French department of Savoie. Between 3,000 and 4,000 environmental activists gathered in protest against the construction of the Lyon-Turin high-speed rail line, which would connect France and Italy via a bored tunnel. The demonstrators argue that this project would cause an ecological disaster.
Tensions between the activists and the police began around 14:30 local time, when officers used tear gas grenades repeatedly to disperse the demonstrators. According to reports, one of these grenades caused a forest fire, which some activists tried to put out. Some of the environmentalists threw stones at the officers and hurled insults at the police and journalists present at the scene. As a result of these clashes, 12 policemen were injured, according to French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.
During a press conference at the end of the day, the prefect of Savoie, François Ravier, reported that one demonstrator was also injured in the leg. As the demonstration was not authorized by the prefect, the authorities deployed 2,000 police and gendarmes to maintain order. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin expressed his support for the 12 injured officers and stated that the security forces were there to ensure the enforcement of the republican order.
The protest took place amid controversy surrounding the Lyon-Turin high-speed rail project, with environmental and local groups concerned about the potential environmental and social impacts of the work. However, French authorities have defended the project, arguing its economic and transportation benefits. Violent clashes between protesters and police reflect the intensity of the conflict and divergences over this controversial construction.