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A first, early blast of winter has knocked out power and made travel nearly impossible in many parts of southern Manitoba.

Crippling blast of winter

A first, early blast of winter has knocked out power and made travel nearly impossible in many parts of southern Manitoba.

Canada  

Public utilities attacked

Police forces in western Quebec are investigating a series of attacks on public utility installations and private business equipment that occurred over a one-month period earlier this spring.

Montreal La Presse reported Wednesday as many as 15 sites were hit by bullets from a high-calibre rifle between mid-March and mid-April.

Targeted sites included hydro towers, highway inspection installations and telecommunication company equipment. There were no reported injuries.

Hydro-Quebec spokesman Louis-Olivier Batty said the damage to one of the corporation's towers cost between $75,000 and $100,000 to repair.

"There was no impact for our customers in Quebec but we have assessed there was an impact on our exports to Ontario," Batty said. "We are still pursuing our investigation but we can tell it was potentially limited and did not last very long."

Police in Gatineau, the MRC-des-Collines police force and Quebec provincial police all confirmed they have open investigations into attacks on public utilities or on private business equipment.

Gatineau police said they are investigating nine cases and are trying to determine whether a person they recently arrested in an unrelated case is linked to any of the utility or equipment attacks.

"The installations vary and the equipment and buildings that were targeted were all different," said Gatineau police spokeswoman Andree East.

She said the damages to the various locations are believed to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Provincial police said bullets were fired at installations belonging to Bell and Videotron in Quebec's Outaouais region. Shots were also fired, they said, at highway inspection installations in the same area.

Eric Labonte, president the Quebec Brotherhood of Highway Traffic Controllers Constables, said the attacks on the installations are an example why his members should be armed like their counterparts in some other Canadian jurisdictions.

"Thankfully there weren't any employees, because there could have been serious injuries," Labonte said.



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