NEWS

Calm sought after violence at N.B. fracking protests

10/19/2013 09:00 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
New Brunswick's premier say his officials will work next week to restart negotiations between the government and a First Nation opposed to shale gas development.

David Alward met with Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock for many hours Friday evening. The two had a lengthy discussion about the week's disturbance.

Alward said he believes everyone realizes it's important not to have a repeat of the violence that led to police cars being torched and 40 protesters arrested.

"What we both know and what we both believe is what took place yesterday hurts all of us," Alward said. "Our representatives are going to meet the first of the week, then the chief and I, the elected representatives, will be meeting shortly after that."  

But he said the possibility of a moratorium on shale gas development is not being considered at this point.

Sock, one of the protesters arrested on Thursday, said his community wants both sides to step back.

"To cool off, you know. For the RCMP to back off, SWN to back off, and give us some time try to heal and reflect on what happened," he said. 

SWN Resources, the company at the centre of the conflict, has not agreed to stop shale gas seismic testing, as the protesters demand. 

The CBC's Stephen Puddicombe said, up until this week, the most disruption he'd witnessed during the months of protest was someone sitting in front of a truck. "They've really been peaceful and they're hoping to return to that," he said. 

But with protesters still in jail, it could take some work to stabilize the situation. 

RCMP say force was justified

The Mounties say they were justified in moving in to end a blockade of a company's shale gas exploration site on Thursday because lives could have been in danger.

Assistant commissioner Roger Brown points to the discovery of explosive devices and firearms seized from the protesters' camp in Rexton. RCMP say they found pipe bombs

He says of the 40 people arrested for firearms offences, threats, intimidation, mischief and violating the injunction, 31 have been released on a promise to appear in court at a later date.

The protesters, some of whom were members of the Elsipogtog First Nation, were demonstrating for weeks against the development of a shale gas sector in the province.

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