Jannah Theme License is not validated, Go to the theme options page to validate the license, You need a single license for each domain name.
World News

New Caledonia “besieged” by riots (mayor of the capital)

Image source, Getty Images

  • Author, Christy Cooney
  • Role, BBC News

The Pacific territory of New Caledonia is “under siege”, declared the mayor of its capital, after days of riots which left six dead.

The mayor of Nouméa, Sonia Lagarde, said that many public buildings on the archipelago had been set on fire and that, despite the arrival of hundreds of police reinforcements, the situation was “far from having returned to calm”.

French gendarmes have launched a major operation to regain control of a 60-kilometer road between Nouméa and the airport, the French Interior Minister announced.

The unrest began last week after Paris lawmakers passed changes that will allow more French residents to vote in local elections, a move that indigenous leaders say would dilute native political influence.

Authorities said a sixth person was killed and two others wounded in an exchange of gunfire Saturday at a makeshift roadblock in the territory’s north.

It was previously confirmed that three indigenous Kanak residents, aged between 17 and 36, and two police officers had been killed.

Images from the territory showed rows of burned cars, makeshift roadblocks and long lines of people outside supermarkets.

Authorities declared a state of emergency including a nighttime curfew as well as bans on public gatherings, the sale of alcohol and the carrying of weapons.

Speaking to French news channel BFMTV, Ms Lagarde said the last two nights had been calmer, but the situation during the day was not improving.

“Quite the contrary, despite all the calls for calm,” she said.

She said it was “impossible” to quantify the damage already caused, but buildings burned included municipal buildings, libraries and schools.

“Can we say that we are in a besieged city? Yes, I think we can say that,” she said. “It’s desolation.”

She added that security forces needed to “give some time” to secure the situation.

Residents reported hearing gunshots, helicopters and “massive explosions,” possibly gas canisters exploding inside a burning building.

Hélène, 42, who took turns guarding makeshift barricades with neighbors, told AFP: “At night we hear shots and things going off.”

With Noumea’s international airport closed for security reasons, around 3,200 tourists and other travelers found themselves stranded inside or outside the archipelago, according to the AFP news agency.

Tourists inside the territory described having to ration their supplies while waiting for a way to leave.

Joanne Elias, from Australia, who is at a seaside resort in Noumea with her husband and four children, said she was told to fill a bathtub in case the water ran out.

“The children are definitely hungry because we don’t really have a choice in what we can feed them,” she said.

“We don’t know how long we’re going to be here.”

On Sunday, New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said in a statement that his country’s defense forces had “completed preparations” for flights to “bring New Zealanders back to New Caledonia as commercial services are not working.

Opposition to the law changes has drawn support in France, with a solidarity demonstration held in Toulouse on Saturday and Kanak flags among those displayed at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Paris.

The unrest has also reignited diplomatic tensions between France and Azerbaijan, which intensified last year after Azerbaijan seized the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The region, with an Armenian majority but located within Azerbaijan, was the subject of a long-standing conflict in which France had supported Armenia.

On Friday, the French government agency Viginum, which monitors foreign digital interference, said it had detected a “massive and coordinated” online campaign pushing claims that French police officers shot pro-independence protesters in New Caledonia.

The government alleged the involvement of “Azerbaijani actors” in the campaign, although the Azerbaijani government has denied these allegations.

The social network application TikTok is now blocked in the territory.

New Caledonia has held three referendums on independence. The first two showed slim majorities for the rest of France.

The third was boycotted by pro-independence parties after the authorities refused to postpone the vote due to the Covid epidemic.

News Source : www.bbc.com
Gn world

Back to top button