German police say anti-coal protester 'holed up' in forest

German police say anti-coal protester 'holed up' in forest
Protesters are observed by the Police as they try to enter the Hambach forest in Kerpen, Germany, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. German energy company RWE plans clearing and grubbing the forest for their open-pit lignite mine nearby to continue digging for brown coal. (Henning Kaiser/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — German police say authorities believe at least one person is holding out inside a makeshift tunnel under a 12,000-year-old forest set to be cleared for coal mining.

A spokesman for Aachen police said Saturday that authorities have ordered journalists out of the area while firefighters investigate the tunnel system beneath Hambach forest.

Wolfgang Roethgens said police earlier removed four protesters who had chained themselves to a facility at the Niederaussem lignite-fired power station near the strip mine.

Police entered the forest earlier in the week to remove protesters who have been camping in the trees and trying to stop the ancient woodland from being cut down.

Environmental groups argue that the forest should be spared because Germany will stop the extraction and burning of coal in the coming years.