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Monday, July 15, 2024

Buildings torched in fresh unrest in New Caledonia

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Noumea, Franc – Several buildings, including a police station and a town hall, were set on fire in New Caledonia overnight, authorities said Monday, as the French Pacific territory was hit by a fresh surge of unrest.

“The night was… marked by unrest throughout the mainland and on the island of Pins and Mare, requiring the intervention of numerous reinforcements: with attacks on the police, arson and roadblocks”, the High Commission, which represents the French state in the archipelago, said in a press release.

Rioting and looting erupted in New Caledonia in mid-May over an electoral reform plan that Indigenous Kanak people feared would leave them in a permanent minority, putting independence hopes definitively out of reach.

The unrest left nine dead and damage estimated at more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion).

The French government responded by sending more than 3,000 troops and police to the territory almost 17,000 kilometres (10,600 miles) from Paris.

In Dumbea, north of the capital Noumea, the municipal police station and a garage were set alight. Four armoured vehicles intervened, an AFP journalist said.

Several fires broke out in the Ducos and Magenta districts of Noumea, while police and separatists clashed in Bourail, resulting in one injury, AFP learned.

The High Commission reported “several fires were extinguished”, particularly in Ducos and Magenta, adding that “the premises and vehicles of the municipal police and private vehicles” were set on fire.

“Abuses, destruction and attempted fires were also committed in several places in Paita,” in the Noumea suburbs, added the High Commission, which said police in Mare had also been attacked.

On Monday morning, many schools were closed due to the renewed unrest.

On Saturday, seven independence activists linked to a group accused of orchestrating the riots last month were indicted and sent to mainland France for pre-trial detention.


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