Violent clashes in New Caledonia as nickel pact exacerbates tensions – by Patrick Decloitre (Radio New Zealand – April 10, 2024)

Fresh clashes erupted on Tuesday in the suburbs of Nouméa between security forces and pro-independence protesters who opposed a nickel pact, offering French assistance to salvage the industry. The clashes, involving firearms, teargas and stone-throwing, went on for most of Tuesday, blocking access roads to the capital Nouméa, as well as the small towns of Saint-Louis and Mont-Dore.

For most of Tuesday, traffic on the Route Provinciale 1 (RP1) was alternatively opened and closed several times, including when a squadron of French gendarmes intervened to secure the area with long-range shot teargas.

The day began with tyres being burnt on the road and then degenerated into violence from some balaclava-clad members of the protest group, who started throwing stones and sometimes using firearms and Molotov cocktails, authorities alleged.

Security forces said one of their motorbike officers, a woman, was assaulted and her vehicle was stolen. Two of the protesters are reported to have been arrested for throwing stones. Banners were deployed, some reading “Kanaky not for sale”, others demanding for New Caledonia’s President Louis Mapou (pro-independence) to resign.

For the rest of this article: