Violence erupts in New Caledonia after leaders sent to France

In a fresh wave of political violence in New Caledonia, protesters late Sunday burnt vehicles and set afire buildings including a police station, officials said.

There was a new upsurge of violence and clashes in the capital Noumea as well as its surroundings. Protesters in the nearby Dumbea township attacked a local police station, and clashes were reported in the neighborhoods of Vallee-du-Tir, Magenta and Tuband.

The unrest came after seven independence leaders linked to a group charged for orchestrating deadly riots last month were sent to France for pre-trial detention.

French authorities had detained 11 leaders during a pre-dawn operation in Noumea last week.

The overseas French territory saw massive riots since May 13 over an electoral reform to allow long-term French residents to participate in local elections. The proposals left at least nine people dead and injured besides arson and looting.

French President Emmanuel Macron on June 13 suspended the reforms, which the indigenous Kanak people say would marginalize them. He visited New Caledonia in May and promised that the reforms would not be pushed through by force.

The riots are estimated to have inflicted around $1.6 billion in damages to private and public property.

France, which colonized New Caledonia in 1853, has a complex relationship with the territory. Kanaks, numbering 112,000 in a population of 300,000, continue to advocate for independence.

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