5 Aug 2009

Shots fired in New Caledonia as clashes continue

1:39 pm on 5 August 2009

Police in New Caledonia have now clashed with striking unionists south of Noumea where the security forces say they have been shot at with hunting rifles.

Radio New Caledonia says this comes amid more blockades at the port of Noumea and now in Houailou in the north after Monday's clashes in Kone.

South of Noumea at St Louis, the road was blocked by unionists who fired shots, injuring a policeman, as the unionists and their supporters were engaged by the security forces who used tear gas in a bid to clear the road.

The violence began last week when police used tear gas to remove a crowd outside a government building which the French high commissioner had declared a no go zone in anticipation of an official visit by a french government minister.

A senior Kanak politician, Roch Wamytan, says the French state has to change its stance as it only leads to guerrilla-like warfare.

A prominent anti-independence politician, Pierre Frogier, has told television in Noumea that for the New Caledonia's economy the union is an abscess.

The conflict at the heart of the strike and violence stems from an employment matter at the domestic airline.