60 hurt in protests at Alpine rail-link

At least 30 police officers and 30 demonstrators were injured in the Italian Alps yesterday during protests over the construction of a high-speed rail link between Italy and France.

Local residents had built barricades to prevent bulldozers from starting excavation at the site in Val di Susa. In the biggest police operation since the G8 summit in Genoa 10 years ago, 2,000 officers used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, La Repubblica reported.

The Italian government is determined to start the project this week to meet the deadline fixed by the European Commission to fund the line construction with €672m (£599m). But environmentalists and residents fear the Val di Susa Alpine site, an area of breathtaking beauty, will be spoilt by heavy machinery.