Police, protesters clash at North Dakota pipeline


Demonstrators opposed to an oil pipeline project in the US state of North Dakota have used slingshots to launch flaming projectiles and attempted to start several fires as they attacked a police barricade at the site, Morton County Sheriff’s Department said on Monday.

Security authorities initially described the protest as an “ongoing riot.” They said that some 400 protesters attempted to cross the Backwater Bridge, which has been blocked off since a similar outbreak of violence in late October.

The protesters tried to outflank police, hurling rocks and behaving in a “very aggressive” manner, according to officers at the scene.

Company shrugs off outrage

In turn, the activists accused the police of using water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. During the night,  the temperature dropped well below freezing point.

“It’s been just horrible,” 83-year-old Rema Loeb told The Associated Press on Monday, adding that he had been forced to retreat from the bridge because he feared being doused with water. Others sought medical treatment after police deployed tear gas, he said.

Protesters said a gym in Cannon Ball was opened during the night to help demonstrators warm up and recover.

The controversial $3.7 billion (3.5 billion euro) pipeline is set to pass under Lake Oahe and skirt the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Its opponents fear that it would pollute the waters and disturb grounds sacred to Native Americans. The majority of work for the project has already been completed.

Last week, the CEO of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, Kelcy Warren, said the company was unwilling to reroute the pipeline despite the growing protests.

dj/tj (Reuters, AP)