UPDATE 6 p.m.
British Columbia’s minister of public safety Mike Farnworth has issued a statement condemning the attack on the Coastal GasLink site.
"The RCMP is conducting a full investigation into this egregious criminal activity that could have led to serious injury or loss of life,” Farnworth said.
"The police report indicates that the workers' camp was attacked in the middle of the night by unknown assailants wielding axes. There is no excuse for such violence and intimidation. All workers deserve to be protected from harassment and harm.”
"This destructive attack should be condemned by all in British Columbia."
UPDATE 5:20 p.m.
The company building a pipeline through Northern B.C. that was violently attacked on Wednesday night called the incident a “highly planned and dangerous unprovoked assault.”
Coastal GasLink says about 20 masked attackers wearing camouflage surrounded and attacked Coastal GasLink workers near the Morice River drill pad site off the Marten Forest Service Road.
The site is the location of the former blockade and opposition camp last year that lasted 59 days.
“This coordinated and criminal attack from multiple directions threatened the lives of several workers. In one of the most concerning acts, an attempt was made to set a vehicle on fire while workers were inside,” the company said in a statement.
“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.”
There were no physical injuries to workers.
Coastal GasLink says the attackers used grinders to cut locks to access the construction site and vandalized heavy equipment and trailers, causing millions of dollars in damage.
Equipment hydraulic and fuel lines were also cut, causing leaks.
“Damage and environmental impacts are still being assessed. We are working to contain and clean up the environmental damage caused by the attackers. We also understand the attackers felled trees, placed tire spikes and lit fires on roads in an effort to impede access to the remote worksite,” the company statement continued.
The company is encouraging a full police investigation, which is already underway.
“As this situation evolves, we remain in close contact with our prime contractor and workforce. Our work is lawful, authorized, fully permitted and has the unprecedented support of local and Indigenous communities and agreements in place with all 20 elected First Nation councils across the 670 km route,” the company said.
Coastal GasLink is almost 60 per cent complete.
ORIGINAL 4:20 p.m.
Houston RCMP are investigating reports of violence against employees of Coastal GasLink as well as with attending police officers.
RCMP said in a press release that on Thursday, Feb. 17 shortly after midnight, police were called to the Marten Forest Service Road after Coastal Gas Link (CGL) security reported acts of violence at their work site.
It was reported approximately 20 people, some armed with axes, were attacking security guards and smashing their vehicle windows.
It was initially reported that some CGL employees were trapped, but all had managed to safely leave the area.
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.
As police worked their way through the debris and traps, several people threw smoke bombs and flaming sticks at police, injuring one officer.
At the 43 km mark, an old school bus blocked the road. No one was located in this area and with the assistance of CGL, the bus was cleared from the road and police continued on.
When police arrived at the drill pad at the 63 km mark, they found significant damage had been done to heavy machinery, fencing and portable buildings.
Police did not encounter any further blockades or protestors as they made their way to the drill pad nor did they locate anyone at the site.
“This is a very troubling escalation in violent criminal activity that could have resulted in serious injury or death. This was a calculated and organized violent attack that left its victims shaken and a multimillion dollar path of destruction,” said Chief Supt. Warren Brown.
“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.”