Violence Rages in New Caledonia as France Urgently Sends Reinforcements to Its Pacific Territory - Latest Global News

Violence Rages in New Caledonia as France Urgently Sends Reinforcements to Its Pacific Territory

Hours after France declared a state of emergency in the French Pacific region, violence raged in New Caledonia for a third straight day on Thursday. That strengthened security forces’ powers to quell deadly unrest in the archipelago, where some residents have long sought to break free from France.

French authorities in New Caledonia and the Interior Ministry in Paris reported that four people, including a police officer, were killed in violence that followed protests earlier this week against enforced electoral reforms President Emmanuel MacronThe government became deadly.

At least 60 members of the security forces were injured and 214 people were arrested in clashes with police, arson and looting on Thursday, according to the territory’s top French official, High Commissioner Louis Le Franc.

Two members of the island’s indigenous Kanak community were among the four dead, French Interior and Overseas Territories Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Thursday.

“The (French) state will regain total control,” Darmanin said in a series of interviews with French media.

The state of emergency will last for at least twelve days, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday.

French forces have been deployed to protect ports and airports and bolster security forces’ efforts to contain the violence. The curfew was extended until Friday morning, Le Franc said.

The emergency powers allow French and local authorities in the archipelago to combat unrest, in particular by authorizing house arrest for people considered a threat to public order and expanding powers to carry out searches, confiscate weapons and to restrict freedom of movement, with possible prison sentences for violators.

The last time France imposed such measures against one of its overseas territories was in 1985, also in New Caledonia.

The Pacific island east of Australia, home to about 270,000 people, is known among tourists for its atolls and reefs, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But tensions have been simmering for decades between the indigenous Kanaks, who sought independence, and the descendants of the colonizers, who want the country to remain part of France.

People of European descent in New Caledonia, which long served as a French prison colony, distinguish between descendants of colonizers and descendants of the many prisoners who were forcibly sent to the area.

New Caledonia became French in 1853 under Emperor Napoleon III, Napoleon’s nephew and heir. After World War II it became an overseas territory, and in 1957 all Kanaks received French citizenship. There is now a French military base on the island.

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