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Video of people 'armed with axes' released in investigation into violent attack at B.C. pipeline camp


Video released by the RCMP shows what officers describe as a group storming the site of a violent attack at a B.C. camp for pipeline workers last week.

Mounties published three video clips Tuesday in connection with the "acts of violence and damage done" at the work camp last week.

In a news release, the RCMP said the videos show a group of people, some of whom are "armed with axes" approaching the Coastal GasLink camp on Thursday.

Police describe what's shown in the video as the group storming the property and attacking a company vehicle. An employee was inside the truck, they said.

"The unknown individuals, who were similarly dressed, swung axes at the vehicle; spray painted the window and ignited what is suspected to be a flare gun," the RCMP wrote.

No Coastal GasLink employees were physically harmed in the attack near Houston, but early estimates suggest the cost of damage could be in the millions.

Police said last week that it's believed about 20 people were involved in the attack, and that officers responding to the scene found the forest service road blocked with "downed trees, tar-covered stumps, wire, boards with spikes in them and fires," as well as an old school bus.

They said "several people" threw smoke bombs and "fire-lit sticks" at officers as they made their way through the debris, leaving one injured.

When they did get to the camp, they said they found significant damage to heavy machinery, fencing and buildings, but no people were located at the site.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline has been the subject of protests by Indigenous land defenders and those aligned with hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation for years.

The project even prompted protests across the country, with blockades popping up in cities thousands of kilometres from the site in Northern B.C. in solidarity with the cause.

Police have not said what connection, if any, the criminal activity has to protesters opposed to the pipeline, but the RCMP did call it a "troubling escalation" of the conflict.

"While we respect everyone's right to peacefully protest in Canada, we cannot tolerate this type of extreme violence and intimidation," Chief Supt. Warren Brown, north district commander for the B.C. RCMP, said in a news release last week

No one has claimed responsibility for the incident.

In a statement dated Saturday, the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs said they too had concerns about safety in the area.

"We have been informed of recent vandalism on the yintah regarding Coastal Gas Link equipment and the safety concerns of security personnel," the chiefs' statement said in part.

"We have a trapping program on the yintah and members living on the yintah in this area, we continue to express our concern for their safety and wellbeing too."

They said their elders do not support violence.

On Tuesday, the RCMP said its investigation is ongoing, and access to the site is being controlled as they wait for the results of an environmental analysis. The analysis was necessary due to damage to heavy machinery at the site, officers said.

Anyone who recognizes those in the video, or who knows more about the incident, is asked to contact Mounties in Houston.

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