Italy’s premier vowed that construction will start on a high-speed rail link in an Alpine valley where clashes continued today between police and demonstrators.
Some of the events in the Winter Olympics in February will be held in the Susa Valley, which is 35 miles west of Turin, which is hosting the games.
Police in Susa said no one was injured in the clashes in the valley, where demonstrators, contending it poses environmental risks, were trying to reach the construction site.
They estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 demonstrators had gathered for the protest. Organisers estimated that there were tens of thousands more.
The A32 Autostrada, a high-speed highway, was shut down for about a 25-mile stretch between the towns of Avigliana and Ulzio as a precaution, police said.
SKY TV24, a private television station, said that a member of its camera crew was slightly injured during one of the clashes near a road turnoff which leads to the site near the town of Venaus.
The Italian news agency Apcom reported that police used clubs to beat back demonstrators who were trying to force a roadblock in the area to reach the site.
In Rome, Premier Silvio Berlusconi told reporters the rail link would be built.
It is a “work which we can’t give up and which carries all the guarantees from an environmental point of view,” Berlusconi said.
As a sign of the running tensions, some town mayors from the valley stayed in the area instead of going to Rome for a ceremony to mark the journey of the Olympic torch toward Turin, the Italian news agency Apcom said.