New Caledonia police say more unrest possible
Police in New Caledonia say clash with Kanak youths has now eased, but more tension is possible.
The New Caledonia police say while clashes near Noumea with scores of Kanak youth opposed to the nearby Vale nickel plant have calmed down, it is likely more unrest is to come.
The Vale plant has been shut for three weeks after another acid spill, which has prompted calls for the six-billion US dollar plant to be closed for good.
Vale says the plant's closure is out of the question.
About 150 riot police with armoured vehicles have been trying to permanently re-open a main road south of Noumea, which was first blocked on Saturday when the unrest started.
Three police officers have suffered gunshot wounds during the clashes.
A police officer, who does not want to be named, says the situation is now stable and the road is open, but he told Mary Baines the youths are likely to attempt to block the road again during the night.
POLICE OFFICER: For the time being, the situation is calm. During the night we had some tension, and we had some young teenagers blocking the road. This morning we had some forces that they conduct some operations in order to make free the road, and for the time being the situation is calm. Close to St Louis and also to the factory in Vale, all is quiet. The forces they are securing this road because it is the main road going from Noumea to the South, in order for the people going to work in the factory, nickel factory in Yate.
MARY BAINES: Police officers suffered gun shots wounds, so it has quietened down?
PO: Yesterday, some have been lightly injured by weapons. We sent them to the medical centre and after medical visits, they came back. They are not seriously injured.
MB: Vale has said that the plant might re-open soon. Are you concerned that the situation with those people demonstrating will escalate when it does open?
PO: For the time being, we have some meetings between Vale and other parties, but we're not involved. But for the time being, we, the forces, are securing the main road close to St Louis and also the site of Vale in Yate in order to avoid any problems.
MB: And yesterday I know 15 people were arrested for driving a van into a police car, have other people been arrested for shooting at police officers?
PO: Because it was during the night, they are conducting inquiries to arrest the people, for gathering some information in order to identify the people that are leading that.
MB: So where are the demonstrators now, have they all gone?
PO: You know, they are coming on the road, then they are leaving. A lot of them live close to the situation where we are having problems. They are living, they have houses, and they go there from the main road. I would like to highlight that for the time being the situation is calm.
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