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Clashes Over Canal Project Leave 11 Hurt in Nicaragua

FILE - Supporters of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega wave flags of the Sandinista National Liberation Front as farmers opposed to the construction of Nicaragua's interoceanic canal join a national protest against the project, in Managua, Nicaragua, Oct. 27, 2015.

Eleven people have been injured in Nicaragua after clashes broke out between police and protesters who oppose the construction of a massive interoceanic canal project in the Central American country, federal police and demonstration leaders said Wednesday.

A gigantic canal project extending 174 miles (280 kilometers) from the Caribbean to the Pacific has been met with disapproval by local residents and environmentalists who warn the project will cause damage to Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America.

Demonstrators had planned to converge Wednesday on Managua, the capital, but canceled the gathering after clashes broke out with riot police the day before in Nueva Guinea, a municipality about 186 miles (300 kilometers) from the capital.

"We decided not to go on with it because we want to show that we love peace, that we are not violent," said Francisca Ramirez, a leader of the movement that opposes the expropriation of land for the canal, saying five protesters had been hurt.

Francisco Diaz, deputy director of the federal police, said riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets against a group of "vandals" who attacked them with sticks and machetes Tuesday, leaving six policemen injured.

The "anti-canal" movement said it would continue its fight against the mega-project, which is being studied for its feasibility.