14 Nov 2016

New Caledonian police close road after gunfire

8:22 am on 14 November 2016

Police in New Caledonia have closed the main road south of Noumea because of gunfire and attempts to intimidate drivers.

This comes two weeks after the same stretch of road was closed for three days because of clashes between the police and armed Kanak men from the St Louis area.

Noumea municipal police facade

Noumea municipal police facade Photo: RNZ

The mayor of nearby Mont-Dore Eric Gay says the latest attacks were being carried out by dangerous and uncontrollable individuals who want to take on the security forces.

Accommodation has been made available for people prevented from travelling while a relief shipping service has been set up to circumnavigate the blockade, in part to allow students to travel to their exams due to start today.

Two weeks ago, five police officers suffered gunshot wounds during a confrontation with an unspecified number of armed men who used about 60 stolen cars which they set alight to block the road.

That violence followed one day after police shot dead a prison escapee originally from St Louis driving a stolen vehicle.

There are no reports of arrests.

A week ago, New Caledonia's top politicians met the French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve in Paris who announced that an extra 53 police would be sent to the territory in February.

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