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Man shot dead by police in France’s New Caledonia

Thousands of police and troops have been deployed to New Caledonia since May
Thousands of police and troops have been deployed to New Caledonia since May - Copyright JIJI PRESS/AFP STR
Thousands of police and troops have been deployed to New Caledonia since May - Copyright JIJI PRESS/AFP STR

French police shot and killed an alleged gunman in New Caledonia on Wednesday, local prosecutors said, bringing the toll of almost two months of unrest in the French Pacific territory to 10.

The suspect was killed during a gun battle in the Mont-Dore district outside New Caledonia’s capital Noumea, where police were deployed to clear roadblocks.

When the police came under fire, members of the GIGN elite tactical unit covering the operation shot back, killing the man, a source close to the case told AFP.

A second source familiar with the case said police had been deployed to arrest people behind gun attacks that have become common in the area, only to come under fire themselves as they cleared a major road.

Unrest broke out in mid-May in New Caledonia, almost 17,000 kilometres (10,600 miles) from Paris, over a planned expansion of the electoral roll that indigenous Kanak people fear would leave them in a permanent minority, crushing their hopes for independence.

Some barricaded roads and burned or looted cars, businesses and public buildings, prompting Paris to send thousands of troops and police in response.

The electoral change, which requires altering the French constitution, is effectively in limbo since President Emmanuel Macron dissolved parliament for new elections that on Sunday produced a lower house with no clear majority.

But unrest has again been stoked by the arrests of pro-independence figures on June 19.

Of 13 people accused of helping orchestrate the riots, five have been jailed in mainland France awaiting trial.

The most prominent of them is Christian Tein of the pro-independence group CCAT, which Paris accuses of being behind the violence.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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