Heavily-armed RCMP officers moved against a Mi’kmaq-led blockade in New Brunswick on Thursday, leading to a violent clash with anti-fracking protesters said to be "willing to die" to hold their position.
APTN National News reports that police moved in on protesters near Rexton, N.B., to enforce an injunction against a barricade blocking a company from completing shale gas exploration. Police reportedly arrested several activists, prompting resident from the Mi’kmaq community of Elsipogtog to swarm the protest site.
The RCMP has confirmed that more than 40 people were arrested on firearms offences and charges of uttering threats, intimidation, mischief and ignoring a court injunction.
"The arrests were made on October 17, 2013, at the site of an ongoing protest. The court injunction was enforced and police were met with resistance by some of those at the site," a news release states.
According to police, at least one gunshot was fired by someone other than police, Molotov cocktails were thrown and five RCMP vehicles were set on fire.
An explosive device was also reportedly found at the scene.
The standoff could get worse. APTN quotes one protester who said they were “willing to die” as part of their months-long protest against the possible fracking of shale gas in the region.
Vivid images of protesters squaring off against authorities began spreading on Facebook and Twitter Thursday afternoon, including camouflaged officers will rifles and a lone demonstrator holding a feather aloft as a line of responders looks on.
Other images show a police vehicle on fire and a video posted on Facebook captures a woman screaming for police to stop pointing their guns at her and warning them that children were on site.
— Heather Marsh (@GeorgieBC) October 17, 2013
— Matt (@MattThor) October 17, 2013
APTN reported a Molotov cocktail being thrown at police and CBC News says pepper gas has been fired at the protesters. RCMP have alerted residents to several closed roads in the area.
The RCMP also warned that more arrests could come against anyone else who breaks the court injunction. Officers remain at the scene and have established a perimeter around the area.
See the latest live updates and photos from the protest below.