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Officers investigate use of laser strikes against planes monitoring pipeline protest

CANNON BALL, N.D. – Authorities are investigating two incidents of laser strikes aimed at aircraft being used to observe the Dakota Access Pipeline protest site.

A pilot reported a laser beam hitting him in the eye around 5:15 a.m. last Wednesday, causing him to be blinded temporarily, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.

A second incident occurred about 12:45 a.m. Sunday. In that case, the pilot said he was able to look away in time to avoid the laser, authorities said.

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Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a federal violation.

Some at the protest complained last week that aircraft were being used to disrupt cell phone communications.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said the planes are being used for public safety observation and not being used to disrupt any services.

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