The last two climate activists holed up beneath a German village due to be destroyed to allow for the expansion of a nearby coal mine have now left the site, according to reports.
The activists had remained inside a self-dug tunnel for days in a bid to prevent heavy equipment from being brought in to bulldoze the hamlet of Luetzerath, west of Cologne, the dpa news agency said.
Meanwhile, anti-coal protests continued in the region, with activists chaining themselves to a giant digger at another nearby mine and others abseiling from a bridge to block access to Luetzerath.
The village has become a flashpoint of protests in the past week. Thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday against the razing of the village by RWE for the expansion of the Garzweiler coal mine.
Police and RWE began evicting activists Wednesday from Luetzerath, removing roadblocks, chopping down treehouses and bulldozing buildings. By Sunday, they said the operation had almost finished.
The government and RWE say the coal beneath Luetzerath is needed to ensure Germany’s energy supply in the coming years.
Environmental campaigners and scientists dispute this, and warn that burning tens of millions of tonnes of coal would undermine Germany’s climate goals.
Protesters accused police of using undue force during last week’s demonstration.
Luisa Neubauer, a prominent activist and member of the Green party that’s in government at the national and regional levels, said on Monday that the police handling of the protest had been a “very shocking experience” for many.
Officials said allegations of police violence would be investigated.
Ms Neubauer acknowledged that her own party leadership’s decision to support a deal resulting in the destruction of Luetzerath had been badly received by grassroots members.
She said: “I would expect that many, many people who were there and who protested with us voted Green.
“The Greens reached a deal with (energy company) RWE that doesn’t have a robust scientific foundation.
“To be honest, I don’t know whether the Green leadership is currently aware of what they’ve done.”