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October 01, 2010

Merkel urges calm after Stuttgart 21 clashes

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GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for calm after riot police were called in to disperse crowds demonstrating against the construction of a new central station in Stuttgart.

stuttgart21protests.jpgAccording to local press reports police used water cannon, pepper spray and batons to break up the protest in the Schlossgarten, where around 100 trees are due to be felled to make way for the new station. Police say 130 people were injured and 16 required hospital treatment, while 26 protestors were arrested.
"I would hope that demonstrations like these would pass off peacefully," Merkel told broadcaster SWR. "This must always be tried and anything that leads to violence must be avoided."
The clashes mark an escalation in protests against the Euros 7 billion project, which includes a 9.5km tunnel from the main station to the new airport station, a new 10km link to Wendlingen and a 60km high-speed line south towards Ulm. Construction began earlier this year but the complexity of the project means it will not be completed before 2019.

There have been weekly demonstrations against the project for almost a year, the largest of which took place on August 28 when 30,000 protestors descended on the city centre.

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