A Coastal GasLink work camp near Houston, British Columbia is now a crime scene, following an early morning attack on workers Thursday involving an estimated 20 masked, axe-wielding assailants, who threatened workers, hacked up vehicles and caused millions of dollars in damage to vehicles, equipment and camp trailers.
Houston RCMP say no arrests have been made yet, and that the camp is now a crime scene, as investigators comb through the wreckage looking for evidence that may lead to arrests.
According to Coastal GasLink and Houston RCMP, workers at a Morice River drill pad site off the Marten Forest Service Road were attacked early this morning in “a highly planned and dangerous unprovoked assault.”
RCMP say an officer responding to the attack was injured when smoke bombs and burning torches were tossed at RCMP by the assailants. This occurred at a portion of road that had been blockaded with fire.
The attack occurred in the same area where opponents of the natural gas pipeline had set up an occupation camp and blockade for 59 days, before RCMP enforced an injunction and cleared the protesters out.
“This coordinated and criminal attack from multiple directions threatened the lives of several workers,” Coastal GasLink said in a news release.
“In one of the most concerning acts, an attempt was made to set a vehicle on fire while workers were inside. The attackers also wielded axes, swinging them at vehicles and through a truck’s window.
“Flare guns were also fired at workers. Workers fled the site for their own safety and remain shaken by this violent incident. Fortunately, there were no physical injuries to Coastal GasLink workers.”
CGL says attackers used grinders to cut locks on a permitted gate to the pipeline construction site and vandalized heavy equipment and construction trailers on-site, causing millions of dollars worth of damage.
Houston RCMP say they responded to a call shortly after midnight Thursday morning that the CGL work camp was under attack.
“Upon police attendance at the 41 km mark, the roadway had been blocked with downed trees, tar covered stumps, wire, boards with spikes in them, and fires had been lit throughout the debris,” an RCMP news release states.
“As police worked their way through the debris and traps, several people threw smoke bombs and fire lit sticks at the police, injuring one officer.”
“This was a calculated and organized violent attack that left its victims shaken and a multimillion dollar path of destruction,” Warren Brown, RCMP Chief Superintendent, North District Command, said.
“While we respect everyone’s right to peacefully protest in Canada, we cannot tolerate this type of extreme violence and intimidation. Our investigators will work tirelessly to identify the culprits and hold them accountable for their actions.”
It’s not clear at this point what kind of security, if any, was in place for the work camp, or whether any video surveillance footage was captured.
Earlier this month, Burns Lake RCMP called for witnesses to vandalism on February 7, in which about $100,000 in damage was done to heavy equipment at 700 Forest Service Road (FSR) between February 5 and February 6. Three excavators were heavily damaged. It’s not clear whether the two incidents are related, as the RCMP did not say who the equipment belonged to.
Police are asking anyone with information about Thursday’s attack to call Houston RCMP at 250-845-2204.
(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)