Police clash with North Dakota pipeline protesters, arrest one

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Nov 20 (Reuters) - Hundreds of protesters opposed to a North Dakota oil pipeline project they say threatens water resources and sacred tribal lands clashed with police who fired tear gas at the scene of a similar confrontation last month, officials said.

An estimated 400 protesters mounted the Backwater Bridge and attempted to force their way past police in what the Morton County Sheriff's Department initially described as an "ongoing riot," the latest in a series of demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

A statement from the agency said one arrest had been made by 8:30 p.m. local time (0230 GMT Monday), about 2 1/2 hours after the incident began 45 miles (30 miles) south of Bismark, the North Dakota capital. About 100 to 200 protesters remained after midnight.

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In this image provided by Morton County Sheriffâs Department, law enforcement and protesters clash near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Cannon Ball, N.D. The clash came as protesters sought to push past a bridge on a state highway that had been blockaded since late October, according to the Morton County Sheriff's Office. (Morton County Sheriffâs Department via AP)
In this image provided by Morton County Sheriffâs Department, law enforcement and protesters clash near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Cannon Ball, N.D. The clash came as protesters sought to push past a bridge on a state highway that had been blockaded since late October, according to the Morton County Sheriff's Office. (Morton County Sheriffâs Department via AP)
In this image provided by Morton County Sheriffâs Department, law enforcement and protesters clash near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Cannon Ball, N.D. The clash came as protesters sought to push past a bridge on a state highway that had been blockaded since late October, according to the Morton County Sheriff's Office. (Morton County Sheriffâs Department via AP)
In this image provided by Morton County Sheriffâs Department, law enforcement and protesters clash near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Cannon Ball, N.D. The clash came as protesters sought to push past a bridge on a state highway that had been blockaded since late October, according to the Morton County Sheriff's Office. (Morton County Sheriffâs Department via AP)
In this image provided by Morton County Sheriffâs Department, law enforcement and protesters clash near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Cannon Ball, N.D. The clash came as protesters sought to push past a bridge on a state highway that had been blockaded since late October, according to the Morton County Sheriff's Office. (Morton County Sheriffâs Department via AP)
In this image provided by Morton County Sheriffâs Department, law enforcement and protesters clash near the site of the Dakota Access pipeline on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Cannon Ball, N.D. At least one person arrested as protesters sought to push past a bridge on a state highway that had been blockaded since late October. (Morton County Sheriffâs Department via AP)
Police confront protesters with a rubber bullet gun during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith 
A rubber bullet and a rubber bullet wound are displayed for the camera during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
A protester watches the confrontation with police from the sidelines during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Police use a water cannon to put out a fire started by protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Police use a water cannon to put out a fire started by protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Police use a water cannon to put out a fire started by protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
A protester watches the police during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
A protester gets warm by a fire during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Protesters stand off with police during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
A horse gallops through a confrontation between police and protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Police use a water cannon on protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
A protester is given medical attention during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
A protester is given medical attention during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Police tear gas protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
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The Backwater Bridge has been closed since late October, when activists clashed with police in riot gear and set two trucks on fire, prompting authorities to forcibly shut down a protesters encampment nearby.

The Morton County Sheriff's Department said officers on the scene of the latest confrontation were "describing protesters' actions as very aggressive."

Demonstrators tried to start about a dozen fires as they attempted to outflank and "attack" law enforcement barricades, the sheriff's statement said.

Police said they responded by firing volleys of tear gas at protesters in a bid to prevent them from crossing the bridge.

Activists at the scene reported on Twitter that police were also spraying protesters with water in sub-freezing temperatures and firing rubber bullets, injuring some in the crowd.

Police did not confirm those reports, but later said protesters had hurled rocks, striking one officer, and fired burning logs from slingshots.

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Celebrities hold protest for the North Dakota pipeline
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Celebrities hold protest for the North Dakota pipeline
Actor Shailene Woodley stands with Native Americans on stage during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Actor Susan Sarandon (R) smiles during an interview with author Greg Palast (C) and Mark Ruffalo (L) backstage at a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Actor Shailene Woodley closes her eyes as rain falls during a prayer circle at a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Actors Frances Fisher, (L), Jaden Smith, and Kendrick Sampson (R) raise their hands into the air as they stand with an attendee during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Actors Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, director Josh Fox, Frances Fisher and author Greg Palast pose for a photograph backstage during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
A woman stands with "No Ometeotl DAPL" drawn on her face during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Lehi Thundervoice Eagle Sanchez looks up during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Actor Susan Sarandon stands backstage at a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Actor Mark Ruffalo speaks during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Attendees stand together during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Actor Shailene Woodley holds hands as rain falls during a prayer circle at a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Actor Shailene Woodley hugs a woman wearing a #NoDAPL shirt on stage during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Joann Mae Spotted Bear speaks on stage with actor Frances Fisher during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
An attendee carries a flag in support of Native Americans during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
People attend a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Actor Mark Ruffalo (L) speaks backstage with Nalleli Cobo, 15, during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Ed Begley Jr. attends a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Actor Frances Fisher speaks on stage during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Actors Frances Fisher and Kendrick Sampson hug during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Attendees raise their fists into the air during a climate change rally in solidarity with protests of the pipeline in North Dakota at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
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The clashes began after protesters removed a truck that had been on the bridge since Oct. 27, police said. The North Dakota Department of Transportation closed the Backwater Bridge due to damage from that incident.

The $3.7 billion Dakota Access project has been drawing steady opposition from Native American and environmental activists since the summer.

Completion of the pipeline, set to run 1,172 miles (1,185 km) from North Dakota to Illinois, was delayed in September so federal authorities could re-examine permits required by the Army Corps of Engineers.

SEE ALSO: 12 powerful images from the Standing Rock protests

Plans called for the pipeline to pass under Lake Oahe, a federally owned water source, and to skirt the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation by about half a mile. Most of the construction has otherwise been finished.

The Standing Rock tribe and environmental activists say the project would threaten water supplies and sacred Native American sites and ultimately contribute to climate change.

Supporters of the pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners, said the project offers the fast and most direct route for bringing Bakken shale oil from North Dakota to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries and would be safer than transporting the oil by road or rail.

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