New Caledonia (Agencies): Additional security forces dispatched from France have successfully quelled the week-long unrest in New Caledonia, a South Pacific territory. The archipelago, situated between Australia and Fiji, witnessed indigenous Kanak people rising up against a proposed law that would grant voting rights to new settlers.

High Commissioner Louis Le Franc reported that the deployment of an additional 1,000 security personnel has restored a “calmer and more peaceful situation” in Noumea, the capital city, for the first time since Monday. However, fires at a school and two companies continue to pose challenges.

French troops, recognizable by their red berets, gas masks, riot shields, and rifles, patrolled the city. A shopping center remains ablaze, and burnt-out cars line the roads. The local chamber of commerce estimates that up to 90% of the grocery distribution network in Noumea suffered damage, amounting to approximately $217 million.

Tragically, five people lost their lives during the unrest. One gendarme was fatally shot, while another fell victim to friendly fire. Additionally, three Kanaks—aged 17, 20, and 36—were killed. Authorities have identified and apprehended two suspects involved in the killings.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced the deployment of reinforcements, vowing to seek “the harshest penalties for rioters and looters.” Around 200 suspected rioters are in police custody, and ten Kanak independence activists accused of organizing the turmoil are under house arrest. The authorities also banned TikTok, alleging its use in organizing the riots.

Meanwhile, New Caledonians have turned to virtual private networks (VPNs) to mask their locations, with a 150% increase in sign-ups, according to a provider.

New Caledonia, once colonized by France in the 19th century, has a history of indigenous resistance. The most recent insurrection occurred in 1988, leading to increased autonomy for the archipelago. The current riots stem from President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to grant residency and voting rights to long-term island residents, a move contested by Kanak independence activists who fear it would dilute their vote.

Notably, New Caledonia ranks as the world’s third-largest producer of nickel, a vital resource used extensively in chemical, construction, and communications industries .

By Media

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