Final four occupiers at Oregon reserve 'to surrender'

Four protesters say they intend to turn themselves in on Thursday, 41 days after occupying US government land.

    The occupation was directed against federal control over millions of acres of public land [Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP]
    The occupation was directed against federal control over millions of acres of public land [Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP]

    The four remaining protesters occupying a wildlife refuge in the US state of Oregon have said they will turn themselves in on Thursday, ending an occupation that has lasted for 41 days, the Associated Press has reported.

    FBI agents closed in on the group on Wednesday, saying that no shots were fired and negotiations to end the standoff without violence were continuing.

    The Los Angeles Times reported that the remaining protesters said they intended to surrender while carrying American flags.

    The four protesters were indicted last week, together with 12 others previously arrested on charges of conspiring to impede federal officers during the standoff at the compound.

     What will stop Oregon standoff?

    The takeover at Malheur National Wildlife Reserve, which began on January 2, was sparked by the return to prison of two Oregon farmers convicted of setting fires that spread to federal property in the vicinity of the refuge.

    The occupation, led by Ammon Bundy, was also directed as a protest against federal control over millions of acres of public land in the western United States.

    Bundy and 10 others were arrested in January in Oregon, most of them during a confrontation with the FBI and state police on a snow-covered roadside where a spokesman for the group, Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, was shot dead. A 12th member of the group turned himself in to police in Arizona.

    The FBI said its agents moved to contain the remaining four remaining protesters on Wednesday evening after one of the occupiers drove an all-terrain vehicle outside the barricades previously set up by the self-styled militia members at the refuge.

    FBI agents attempted to approach the driver, and he sped away back to the compound, after which federal agents "moved to contain the remaining occupiers by placing agents at barricades both immediately ahead of and behind" their encampment, the FBI said.

    A number of the occupiers were giving their version of events as they were unfolding via an independent internet broadcast, "Revolution Radio", which is known to be sympathetic to the occupation.

    One woman said FBI agents had moved to within 45 metres of the occupiers' position in the compound. One protester - identifying herself as Sandy Anderson - reported seeing FBI snipers posted on a nearby hillside with high-beam vehicle lights trained on the compound.

    "If they tear gas us, it's the same as firing on us," she said, adding: "Don't come in. Don't do it."

    READ MORE: Militia leader urges occupiers to leave Oregon refuge

    It was not immediately clear how much further law enforcement officers would go in the latest confrontation. Until Wednesday, FBI and police had largely kept their distance from the buildings occupied by the protesters, sealing off access to the refuge headquarters with roadblocks.

    However, the standoff has reached a point where it has become necessary to take action to ensure everyone's safety, Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon, said in a statement.

    "It has never been the FBI's desire to engage these armed occupiers in any way other than through dialogue, and to that end the FBI has negotiated with patience and restraint in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully," the statement said.

     Farmers speak out as Oregon armed group continues standoff

    SOURCE: Reuters And AP


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