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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Leyland Cecco in Toronto

Night-time attack on controversial Canadian gas pipeline site

Damaged vehicles at Coastal GasLink’s Morice River Forest Service Road site
Damaged vehicles at Coastal GasLink’s Morice River Forest Service Road site near Houston, British Columbia, pictured on 17 February this year. Photograph: Bc Rcmp/Reuters

Police in Canada have released footage of axe wielding attackers as they investigate a “calculated and organised” night-time raid on a remote work camp.

Up to 20 people are believed to have attacked Coastal GasLink’s pipeline construction camp last week on Marten Forest Service Road in British Columbia.

Dressed all in white, the attackers smashed vehicles with axes, including one vehicle with a security guard inside.

“I heard smashes on the back tailgate and when I looked in my mirror I could see one of them was holding an axe … it was terrifying,” said the employee, Trevor, in a release from the company.

The attackers spray painted the vehicle’s window and set off what was believed to be a flare gun. The group then hijacked heavy machinery, using it to destroy buildings and a drill pad. The company estimated that the cost of the damage was in millions of dollars.

The few workers at the camp were escorted to vehicles by security guards and driven to safety. No injuries were reported in the attack.

When police arrived, they found the service road blocked by trees, tar-covered stumps and a wooden board with spikes. Police say people in the forest threw smoke bombs and fire-lit sticks at them as they approached the camp.

“Because of the nightfall and the actual booby traps that were set up, and one of our members actually getting injured … the attackers just ended up disappearing into the forest,” Sascha Baldinger, a sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said on Saturday.

No suspects have been identified and no group has claimed responsibility.

The location of the attack, about 37 miles south of Houston, BC, is the site of a pipeline project that has attracted sustained protest over the last three years. The C$6.6bn pipeline project, running for more than 400 miles, will carry natural gas to the province’s western coast. A third of the pipeline passes through the traditional lands of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation.

CGL says its project is supported by 20 First Nation band councils and five of the six elected band councils in the Wet’suwet’en nation.

But Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have fiercely opposed the project and say the band leadership does not have the authority to negotiate such agreements.

Opposition to the project by Indigenous land defenders has led to police raids on the protest camps in previous years. But the RCMP say there are not any links to the demonstrations against the pipeline.

“Although there have been confrontations in the past and there has been active protest in the area, at this point we have no linkages to those events and this current event,” said Baldinger.

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