MANAGUA (Reuters) - At least 21 people were injured on Wednesday in clashes between police and protesters opposed to the construction of Nicaragua’s planned $50 billion shipping canal, authorities said.
Nicaragua’s director general of police Aminta Granera said that 15 police officers and six civilians were hurt. Organizers of the protest said, however, that at least 40 demonstrators were injured.
Granera said that after the demonstration was cleared, protesters used guns, machetes, stones and sticks to attack police. Organizers said their demonstration was peaceful.
The confrontation occurred on a highway near El Tule, 260 km (162 miles) from Managua. Using tear gas and rubber bullets, police cleared out 300 residents protesting there, Granera said. Thirty-three protesters were detained by police.
Police began clearing the area after protesters threatened to set alight a tanker truck carrying 1,000 liters of fuel, Granera said.
Nicaragua announced the start of the canal project on Monday, which is backed by a Hong Kong-based company.
The proposed canal would pass through Lake Nicaragua, Central America’s largest lake, and would be more than three times longer than the Panama Canal. Many protesters are concerned their homes could be threatened by the waterway.
Reporting Ivan Castro; Writing by Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein; Editing by Grant McCool