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Chevron continued its hunt for shale gas in north-east Romania after riot police removed protesters from the village of Pungesti.

Two months ago, protesters and villagers set up camps to stop Chevron’s operations, the Guardian said.

“We want the mayor to leave and Chevron to leave. We need courageous men, not to use force, just to show them we are united and we are not afraid,” Alexandru Focșa, 45, a farmer who has been camping since October, told the Guardian.

“At 4am on Monday the Romanian gendarmerie [paramilitary police force] moved in to secure the way for Chevron’s trucks. In a scene that resembled a military operation, they occupied the village, blocking all access points with riot police vans and preventing anyone from leaving or entering for over 24 hours. Several villagers were detained and fined for the criminal offence of blocking a public road. Villagers say that anyone leaving their homes was stopped for questioning,” according to the report.

Local newspapers reported some violence when hundreds of police moved in, the Guardian said, with claims “that between 30 and 40 people had been beaten by police.”

Even before police cleared the camps, Chevron had built a new access road, erected a metal fence around the drilling site and deployed their own private security team, the Guardian said.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta said police have responded to the anti-fracking protests according to the law.

Human rights activists have said the protesters were exercising legal rights and the press shouldn’t be restricted from entering protest areas.

Chevron told the Guardian: “The company is committed to building constructive and positive relationships with the communities where we operate and we will continue our dialogue with the public, local communities and authorities on our projects.”