BERLIN (AP) — Climate activists have occupied a giant digger at a coal mine in western Germany to protest the destruction of a nearby village for the expansion of a separate mine.

Energy company RWE told German news agency dpa that four people climbed onto the digger early Monday and operations at the Hambach lignite mine have been paused. Police have been informed of the incident, the company said.

Anti-coal group Ende Gelaende wrote on Mastodon that a second group of activists had climbed onto a bridge to block access to the village of Luetzerath, which has become a flashpoint of protests in the past week.

Thousands of people demonstrated Saturday against the razing of the village by RWE for the expansion of the Garzweiler coal mine, which is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Hambach.

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 tons of coal would undermine Germany’s climate goals.

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