Italian rail project sparks violence

July 4, 2011 at 12:00 PM

TURIN, Italy, July 4 (UPI) -- Italian prosecutors have been urged to press "heavy" charges after violent weekend protests at a high-speed rail site in Northern Italy left 200 police injured.

"I consider it attempted murder," said Interior Minister Roberto Maroni of the Sunday actions of some protesters trying to block construction of a high-speed rail tunnel connecting Turin to Lyon, France, Italian news agency ANSA reported

Protesters who allegedly threw Molotov cocktails at police outside the construction site were "a group of thugs looking for victims," Maroni said.

Opponents of the high-speed rail project say the tunnel will create pollution and mar the area's natural beauty.

Demonstrators used rocks, tree branches and incendiary devices to disrupt the project in a number of clashes with police over a weeklong period, ANSA said.

Construction of the 32-mile tunnel will go on as planned despite the protests, administrators said.

"The state can't buckle in the face of these protests," Transport Minister Altero Matteoli said. "Work will go ahead".

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