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Still no leads after release of video from attack on Coastal GasLink site, says Mountie

Click to play video: 'RCMP could have at least two suspects in violent attack on Coastal GasLink employees'
RCMP could have at least two suspects in violent attack on Coastal GasLink employees
RCMP in northern B.C. are hinting that they might have at least two suspects in the violent attack on Coastal GasLink employees at a work site near Houston. Emad Agahi reports. – Feb 23, 2022

One day after releasing a brief video of the suspects involved in an attack on a northern B.C. pipeline work site, a Mountie has told Global News that they’re still without leads.

“I am not aware of any details we can share that would help the public identify who may be responsible,” said Cpl. Madonna Saunderson on Wednesday.

Click to play video: 'More reaction to Coastal GasLink worksite vandalism'
More reaction to Coastal GasLink worksite vandalism

“The RCMP certainly have members there following up on leads, tips and any information, conducting interviews.”

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Read more: Police release brief videos showing alleged attack on northern B.C. gas pipeline camp

On Feb. 17, police said a group of masked attackers engaged in a “violent confrontation” with Coastal GasLink staff at a remote work site roughly 60 kilometres south of Houston. About 20 people, “some armed with axes, were attacking security guards and smashing their vehicle windows,” police said in a news release.

When officers arrived, some of them threw smoke bombs and fire-lit sticks, injuring a Mountie.

Different sites along the Morice River Forest Service Road were blocked with trees, wire, spiked boards and debris on fire, police added, while another site was blocked by a school bus.

Coastal GasLink staff escaped unscathed, but significant damage was done to much of its equipment.

Click to play video: 'RCMP release employee video of Coastal GasLink attack'
RCMP release employee video of Coastal GasLink attack

On Tuesday, RCMP released a short video of the alleged attackers. In footage, suspects clad in white appear to strike Coastal GasLink vehicles with axes and shine flashing lights their occupants.

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In an article published the same day by the Prince George Post, RCMP Chief Supt. Warren Brown said police have inched closer to identifying two suspects in the attack and are compiling the evidence needed for the Crown to approve one or more charges against them.

Saunderson would not confirm that information with Global News on Wednesday.

“I do have a question in to Chief Supt. Brown to provide me with more information,” she said, adding there is “nothing new” to report on the police investigation.

Read more: Alleged attack at Coastal GasLink site in B.C. being investigated as criminal act

The attack is being investigated as a criminal act rather than a breach of injunction, according to the Mounties.

A court-ordered injunction was granted in December 2019 to stop opponents of Coastal GasLink’s pipeline from impeding the company’s activities, but since then, a blockade has been set up on and off to stop its construction anyway.

If built, the 670-kilometre pipeline would transport natural gas from northeastern B.C. to a liquefied natural gas facility in coastal Kitimat, where it would be exported to global markets.

The project is permitted under Canadian law, but does not have the blessing of Wetsuwet’en Nation’s hereditary chiefs, whose unceded territory it crosses. Concerned for the wellbeing of ecosystems and sovereignty over their land, the chiefs have said the pipeline is “illegal” under their laws — the only ones they recognize on their territory.

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Multiple requests for comment from the Gidimt’en Checkpoint, which has led many efforts to stop the project, have not been returned.

Click to play video: 'Police have some video of Coastal Gaslink attack'
Police have some video of Coastal Gaslink attack

In a statement last week, the hereditary chiefs said they were aware of the recent vandalism and safety concerns of Coastal GasLink personnel, and signed a statement condemning all forms of violence.

“At this time, we do not have enough information to make any comments regarding the situation,” they wrote. “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.”

Clan members were in the same part of the territory just a few days prior to the incident, they noted, and did not see anything unusual or irregular.

Read more: Wet’suwet’en Nation condemns northern B.C. pipeline attack as new images released

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Coastal GasLink, meanwhile, has said the unknown suspects “terrorized” nine of their nightshift employees and is supporting all those impacted by the attack.

“We appreciate the outpouring of support for our workers, including the labour unions who represent them, and stand together in condemning these actions,” said the company’s vice-president of delivery, Kent Wilfur, in a Feb. 18 statement.

The initial damage estimate to Coastal GasLink equipment is in the millions of dollars, and the company has said work on the pipeline in that area will resume when it is safe.

The project is nearly 60 per cent complete overall and the company has signed agreements with all 20 elected “Indigenous groups” along the pipeline route, according to its website.

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