Tension rises at Skouries amid rival demos

Tension rises at Skouries amid rival demos

Two unionists representing miners at the Skouries gold mine were released Monday a few hours after being arrested at protests in favor of the project, which has been suspended by the government.

The union leaders were arrested in Halkidiki after hundreds of workers organized two roadblocks to draw attention to their plight. Eldorado, the company that owns the mine, has said it might have to suspend some 2,000 employees after the government refused to accept a technical study for the project.

The men were charged with disrupting transportation Monday and released, while protesters later lifted the roadblocks.

Their arrests came a day after police took 78 people into custody at a demonstration against the mine. Police said they came under sustained attack from some protesters on Sunday that included more than 40 Molotov cocktails and various other missiles. Officers said the activists also formed burning barricades with tires and branches. Authorities said 69 of those detained were foreign nationals.

Four were ordered deported, including two women who refused to give their names or nationalities to police. The others face a range of charges that includes breaching the peace and civil disobedience.

The Skouries mine has long been a source of friction between authorities and residents, as well as activists from outside the area. Alternate Minister for Citizens’ Protection Yiannis Panousis warned in April that the festering ill-feeling could soon lead to a loss of life.

Extensive damage to the mining company’s vehicles and offices sustained extensive damage in a February 2013 arson attack, which resulted in 21 people going on trial earlier this year.

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