Four arrested in gold mine clashes

Police in central Macedonia are holding an investigation following clashes on Sunday between riot police and demonstrators protesting gold mining in Skouries, Halkidiki.

In a statement Monday, police said four people were arrested on charges of unlawful weapon possession, of disturbing the peace and of loitering with intent. Another five people were briefly detained, it said.

Police confiscated 19 hand-made firebombs, five gas masks, a large number of wooden sticks, two knives and one slingshot, the statement said.

Another 34 firebombs were found in a nearby area on Monday, police said.

On Sunday, dozens of residents of the nearby village of Ierissos, as well as protesters who arrived by coaches and cars from Thessaloniki, approached the forest in Skouries, where Hellenic Gold, a subsidiary of Canadian firm Eldorado Gold, has begun mining activity that locals are appealing against.

Protesters accused the police of making heavy use of tear gas to fend off the crowd, of causing a fire in the woods, and of chopping down trees to prevent demonstrators from approaching the mine.

Several people were injured, including SYRIZA MP Vangelis Diamantopoulos.

Hellenic Gold has been awarded an area of 26,400 hectares, of which 410 is forest land. Almost all the trees in the forest will be cut down as part of the mining firm?s plan to extract gold. The company says it will replant trees when it finishes its work.

Opponents of the mine argue it would lead to the destruction of the local forest and irreversible damage to the ecosystem.

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