Violence rages in New Caledonia as France rushes emergency reinforcements to its Pacific territory

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Smoke rises during protests in Noumea, New Caledonia on May 15. (AP)

PARIS, May 16, (AP): Violence raged across New Caledonia for the third consecutive day on Thursday, hours after France imposed a state of emergency in the French Pacific territory, boosting 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 five people, including two police officer, have been killed in the violence after protests earlier this week over voting reforms pushed by President Emmanuel Macron’s government turned deadly.
At least 60 members of the security forces were injured and 214 people were arrested in the Thursday’s clashes with police, arson and looting, 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 five dead, French Interior and Overseas Territories Minister Gerald Darmanin said Thursday.
“The (French) state will regain total control,” Darmanin declared in a series of interviews with French media.
Darmanin said 10 people, all alleged members of the pro-independence movement known as The Field Acton Coordination Unit, have been placed under house arrest. In April, the group had backed several protests against French authorities on the island.
However, Darmanin, the interior minister, alleged on Thursday that the movement is “small group which calls itself pro-independence, but instead commits looting, murder and violence.”
“We will not back down,” Darmanin said.
The National Council of Chiefs of the Indigenous Kanak people condemned “all acts of vandalism and gun violence” as “unjustifiable,” but rejected the allegations that members of The Field Action Coordination Unit have been involved in the deadly violence.

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