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OREGON, USA (2nd UPDATE) – One person was killed and several others arrested Tuesday, January 26, in the US state of Oregon following a shootout between police and members of a militia that had been occupying a wildlife refuge for weeks, the FBI said.
Ammon Bundy, the rancher who led the January 2 occupation of the reserve in rural Oregon, was among 5 people arrested in the highway stand-off between an armed anti-government group and the US authorities.
Bundy, 40, faces a federal felony charge “of conspiracy to impede officers of the United States from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation, or threats,” the FBI said in a statement.
During the arrest operation conducted FBI agents and Oregon state police “there were shots fired,” the statement read.
Authorities did not immediately identify the dead person, who was named by CNN as Robert LaVoy Finicum.
The FBI said another person “suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital for treatment” before being taken into custody.
The group was arrested at a traffic stop while traveling in two vehicles, CNN reported, citing police sources.
All but two of the men, including Bundy’s 43-year-old brother Ryan, surrendered to police, CNN said.
It was unclear who shot first, but CNN said Ryan Bundy was wounded.
The Bundy bothers are the sons of Cliven Bundy, 69, an outspoken anti-government activist who in 2014 engaged in an armed standoff with federal authorities over unpaid cattle grazing fees at his Nevada ranch.
Cliven Bundy confirmed LaVoy Finicum’s death on his Facebook page, saying that he “was Shot and murdered in Cold blood today in Burns Oregon” (sic) by the FBI and state police.
Separately in Burns, the Oregon town closest to the reserve, state police arrested a 45 year-old man from Arizona and the FBI arrested a 50 year-old man from Ohio “without incident,” both connected to the standoff.
The FBI identified the Ohio man as an “independent journalist” who produced videos of the occupation that he posted on YouTube.
The group took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in protest over the jailing of two local ranchers, Dwight Hammond and his son Steven, who were convicted of arson.
Their demands soon grew to include a call for the government to turn over federal land in the area to local ranchers.
The Hammonds however distanced themselves from the movement and voluntarily began their scheduled prison sentences after the occupation began.
Several members of the local community, notably the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, had condemned the takeover of the reserve, while expressing sympathy for the Hammonds.
On January 11, the protesters destroyed fencing surrounding the reserve.
Ammon Bundy has said they were acting at the request of a rancher who wanted to graze his cattle on the property. – Rappler.com