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French police face anti-airport protesters

NANTES, France, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Police in France are preparing for a weekend confrontation with opponents of a new airport near Nantes, officials said.

Saturday's planned "re-occupation" rally, dubbed high risk by police, is the latest chapter in efforts to prevent 5,000 acres of farmland from being turned into a replacement for the Nantes-Alantique airport, France 24 reported Tuesday.

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The anti-airport campaign dates back many years but it took an ugly turn in recent weeks with riot police using tear gas to evict protesters from the proposed airport site in October. The protesters responded by throwing Molotov cocktails at police and setting up burning roadblocks.

"By evicting people to silence the dissent, all the government has succeeded in doing is to help the movement gain momentum," said Genevieve Lebouteux of France's Green Party.

The $736 million airport at Notre-Dame-Des-Landes was originally due to be operational by 2017 but that date now appears optimistic due to legal disputes and protests, France 24 said.

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