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Thousands protest felling German forest to expand coal mine

October 6, 2018
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People attend a demonstration close to the forest 'Hambacher Forst' in Kerpen, western Germany, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Thousands of environmentalists have come together for a protest against the expansion of a coal mine in western Germany a day after a court blocked the feeling of an endangered forest there. (Christophe Gateau/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Thousands of environmentalists are protesting the expansion of a coal mine in western Germany a day after a court blocked the felling of an endangered forest near the site.

The mood Saturday at Hambacher Forest near Cologne was celebratory as thousands expressed relief over the court’s temporary halt to the clearing of Hambach Forest.

The Muenster administrative court issued a temporary halt Friday after an environmental group argued the forest deserves protected status because of the bats that live there.

Energy company RWE wants to expand its adjacent lignite strip mine. The standoff between police and protesters — some of whom have camped for months in tree houses — has made the ancient woodland a cause celebre for environmentalists.

The German government wants to phase out coal in the long term.

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