Protests Rage, 4 Dead

France Declares Emergency In New Caledonia

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

In the French autonomous region of New Caledonia, 3 indigenous youths and a police officer were killed in a massive police clashes with local residents. A state of emergency was declared on Wednesday (May 15) to control the situation. Meanwhile the situation is growing severe tense over the passage of a bill in the French National Assembly on Tuesday (May 14th) to change the voting rules for the region's residents.

Armed forces were protecting New Caledonia's two airports and port after a third night of violent riots that have killed four people, the Pacific Island's top French official said on Thursday morning, adding at least four alleged instigators were under house arrest.

In three municipalities on the French-ruled island, gendarmes faced about 5,000 rioters, including between 3,000 and 4,000 in the capital Noumea, France's High Commissioner Louis Le Franc said in a televised press conference.

Two hundred people have been arrested, and 64 gendarmes and police injured, while road barricades put up by the protesters were causing a "dire situation" for medicine and food for the population, he added.

France declared a state of emergency in New Caledonia that came in force at 5 a.m. local time (1800 GMT Wednesday), giving authorities additional powers to ban gatherings and forbid people from moving around the island.

Police reinforcements adding 500 officers to the 1,800 usually present on the island, have been sent after rioters torched vehicles and businesses and looted stores.

Noumea resident Yoan Fleurot told Reuters in a Zoom interview that he has seen looting and destruction of properties. Some storeowners willingly let their shelves be raided, pleading that their shops not be destroyed, he said.

Fleurot said he is armed with a 16-caliber gun and has video surveillance installed around his house, adding he has only ventured out in daylight to check on his parents or his properties.

The roadblocks were difficult to pass through, and he been subjected to insults and threats of violence, he said.

"I am New Caledonian, but I no longer know my country anymore," he said.

"Caledonia will have a hard time recovering from this crisis... Everything, 80%, is destroyed," he added.

Main and secondary roads in Noumea were blocked by barricades with burning cars and car carcasses, some with booby traps with gas bottles and ignition systems, French official Le Franc said._NDTV

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