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Canadian police attempting to clear one of several bridges into the US blocked by the Freedom Convoy were almost rammed by a tractor trailer, and seized a large cache of weapons, ammunition and body armor.
Eleven people connected to the anti-vaccine mandate protests which have halted cross-border travel in Canada were arrested in the Alberta village of Coutts, the Royal Canadian Mountain Police said on Monday.
Those arrested were described by the police as ‘a small organized group within the larger Coutts protest,’ and had been blocking the crossing from Coutts, population 245 people, into Sweet Grass, Montana for a week.
The Coutts crossing sees $44 million ($35m) per day in two-way trade, said David MacLean, vice-president of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.
‘The Alberta RCMP recently became aware of a small organized group within the larger Coutts protest,’ they said in a statement.
‘Information was received that this group had access to a cache of firearms with a large quantity of ammunition.
‘The group was said to have a willingness to use force against the police if any attempts were made to disrupt the blockade. This resulted in an immediate and complex investigation to determine the extent of the threat and criminal organization.’
Protesters are seen at the Coutts, Alberta crossing earlier in the blockade. The demonstrators have been removed and early on Monday 11 people were arrested after weapons were found
Police are seen standing close to the US-Canada border in Alberta, where protests have been staged for a week
Truckers are seen blocking the border between the US and Canada in Alberta
Three crossings are now blockaded, with the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit the most key for trade
Early on Monday morning, the RCMP, equipped with a search warrant, raided three trailers and arrested the 11.
The police found 13 long guns, handguns, multiple sets of body armor and a machete.
They said they seized a large quantity of ammunition and high capacity magazines.
Officers are now searching for the driver of the tractor trailer, who attempted to ram the police vehicle.
The RCMP said the attempted attack was ‘an example of the militant mindset of a small segment of the protest’.
They said the protesters’ vehicles involved were a large farm tractor and a semi truck, both involved in the blockade.
The driver of the police vehicle swerved to avoid the collision, and officers followed the suspects to a place where the protesters were gathering. The farm tractor and semi truck involved have been seized, and the driver identified as police search for him.
A Canadian trucker blocking the border near Coutts, Alberta
The Coutts protest, which lasted a week, was costing the country CA $48 million a day in lost trade, the finance minister said
The unrest in Alberta came as, 1,750 miles away in Ontario, police were also working to keep the Ambassador bridge between Windsor and Detroit, Michigan open.
On Monday afternoon, Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the border blockade in Coutts, is disrupting CA $48 million ($37m) daily in international trade.
The Emerson, Manitoba, border block costs CA $73 million a day, while the blockade at the Ambassador bridge costs CA $390 million a day.
Protesters there were removed on Saturday morning, and police are now patrolling the area to prevent the blockade reforming.
The Emerson bridge was also open, but with significant delays.