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Dakota Access: Police and protesters clash

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World Pipelines,

The latest in a series of demonstrations against the Dakota Access pipeline, saw an estimated 400 protesters mount the Backwater Bridge and attempt to force their way past police. A line of police turned the protesters back.

The Backwater Bridge has been long-blockaded due to the pipeline’s construction. It was closed when activists clashed with police in October, which resulted in two trucks being set on fire and prompted authorities to forcibly shut down a protesters encampment nearby.

At approximately 6pm, protesters removed a burnt out truck on the bridge, which is located not far from where the protestors have been demonstrating for weeks.

While the Morton County sheriff's office described the clash as a "riot” and claimed that one arrest had been made, protesters have claimed that authorities used tear gas, rubber bullets and a water cannon in below-freezing temperatures.

The sheriff's department said that officers at the scene of the latest confrontation were "describing protesters' actions as very aggressive." As reported by Reuters, according to the sheriff's statement, demonstrators tried to start about a dozen fires as they attempted to outflank and attack law enforcement barricades.

While the police have confirmed the use of tear gas, they have not yet confirmed activists’ reports that some were injured due to spraying protesters with water in sub-freezing temperatures and firing rubber bullets. Rema Loeb told The Associated Press that he was forced to retreat from the bridge because he feared being doused with water on the freezing night. Others, he said, needed medical treatment after being hit with tear gas.

The police themselves have claimed that protesters hurled rocks, striking one officer, and fired burning logs from slingshots.

This most recent clash comes just days after organisers held co-ordinated demonstrations across the country to protest a 1170 mile oil pipeline that has prompted thousands of people to flock to North Dakota, where the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe argues that the proposed pipeline could permanently contaminate its water source, the Missouri River, as well as desecrate sacred sites.

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