OREGON STANDOFF

Refuge occupants plan to surrender

The FBI has moved to within 50 yards of the four remaining militants at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, marking a major escalation in the 40-day occupation.

The remaining militants -- Sean and Sandy Anderson, Jeff Banta and David Fry -- were discussing the siege by phone with a conservative activist, who was streaming the call live on YouTube.

At around 9:15 p.m. PST, Sean Anderson said the militants had agreed with the FBI to surrender Thursday at 8 a.m. PST. He said they will leave their weapons behind and walk one by one to an FBI checkpoint.

"It's going against everything we believe in," he said

Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R), who recently flew to Portland, was on the line and trying to persuade the militants to remain calm and to prepare to leave the refuge peacefully. Anderson said they expect to meet Fiore and evangelist Franklin Graham at the checkpoint.

Fiore said she was being driven to the refuge by Michael Arnold, one of the attorneys representing Ammon Bundy.

"They cannot fire upon you with the world watching," Fiore said.

The militants apparently are negotiating with an FBI agent named Mark.

On the call, the militants repeatedly demanded that the charges against them be dropped. Fry could be heard repeatedly screaming at police.

The FBI began to close in on the militants at around 4:30 p.m. PST when an occupier rode an all-terrain vehicle beyond the barricades that militants had built near the refuge headquarters, according to authorities. When federal agents approach that militant, he returned to the camp at a high speed.

The FBI then built barricades "both immediately ahead of and behind" the militants' campground.

Negotiations are continuing and no shots have been fired, the FBI said.

"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," said Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon. "However, we reached a point where it became necessary to take action in a way that best ensured the safety of those on the refuge, the law enforcement officers who are on scene and the people of Harney County who live and work in this area."

Helicopters could be heard in the area, according to Amanda Peacher, a reporter for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Cliven Bundy, the father of Ammon and Ryan Bundy, told followers by email from his ranch this evening that he is headed to the refuge and requested others join him.

"WAKE UP AMERICA! WAKE UP WE THE PEOPLE!" the email said. "WAKE UP PATRIOTS! WAKE UP MILITA! [sic] IT'S TIME!!!!!"

Email: ptaylor@eenews.net

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