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BP agent nearly stabbed in confrontation near Three Points

A Border Patrol agent working near Three Points, west of Tucson, said a man tried to stab him during a confrontation Tuesday night, authorities said. Instead, the knife hit the agent's handheld radio.

Around 9 p.m., a helicopter crew with Air and Marine Operations responded to a report of 10 migrants walking through the desert near Three Points, said a spokesman with Tucson Sector's Public Affairs Office.

The pilot found the group and was guiding agents on the ground to the group's location, when one man ran off. An unidentified agent attempted to apprehend the fleeing and "a struggle ensued," during which the man pulled out a knife and attempted to stab the agent, authorities said.

The knife struck the agent's handheld radio, which was attached to his body armor, the spokesman said.

The agent called for assistance, and the helicopter pilot found a clearing suitable for landing, allowing his co-pilot to help the agent as he struggled with the man. Together, both agents subdued and arrested him.

The arrested man was not identified by officials.

The spokesman said that this incident is just the latest "latest in a string of assaults against U.S. Customs and Border Protection law enforcement."

On Jan. 18, the U.S. Attorney's Office filed assault charges against a Honduran man for attacking a Border Patrol agent with his collapsible steel baton during an incident in mid-December. During the altercation, the agent fired his weapon, striking the man in the left leg.

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In the last few months, U.S. Border Patrol agents have suffered a spike in reported assaults.

According to agency statistics, the number of assaults against BP agents from October to December 31 has risen 148 percent compared to the same time period last year. Agents assigned to AMO, which includes helicopter and boat crews, have reported a 50 percent increase in assaults.

The number of assaults has been increasing since 2014, when CBP reported the lowest number of assaults against CBP law enforcement personnel in the last five years at 373 incidents. Since that year, the number has been increasing. From 2015 to 2016, the number of assaults against all agents and officers in U.S. Customs and Border Protection rose nearly 23 percent, from 477 incidents to 585 incidents.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

A Border Patrol agent in Nogales holds a rock that was thrown at a Border Patrol agent in 2014. In the latest incident, a man tried to stab an agent during an altercation near Three Points, Arizona.