The outcome of a bloody day in New Caledonia as violence continues between the Kanak and the descendants of the colonists

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Violence broke out across New Caledonia for the third day in a row on Thursday, after France declared a state of emergency in the French Pacific territory.

Five people were killed in the violence and at least 60 members of the security forces were injured. 214 people were arrested in Thursday’s clashes with police, arson and looting, and 10 people were placed under house arrest, all alleged members of the pro-independence movement known as the Acton Field Coordination Unit. In April, the group supported several protests against the French authorities on the island.

A state of emergency was imposed after decades

France has imposed a state of emergency to last at least 12 days. French military forces have been deployed to protect ports and airports and strengthen security forces’ efforts to reduce violence.

The last time France imposed such measures on one of its overseas territories was in 1985, also in New Caledonia.

This island, located in the Pacific Ocean east of Australia, is inhabited by about 270,000 people and is ten time zones ahead of Paris. It is known to tourists for its coral islands and coral reefs, which are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Between the Kanak and the descendants of the colonists

Tensions have simmered for decades between the indigenous Kanak population, who seek independence, and the descendants of the colonists, who want it to remain part of France.

Unrest erupted this week as the French legislature in Paris debated amending the French constitution, to make changes to voter lists in New Caledonia.

On Wednesday, the National Assembly approved a bill allowing residents who have lived in New Caledonia for 10 years to cast their votes in provincial elections.

Opponents say this measure will benefit pro-French politicians in New Caledonia and will further marginalize the Kanaks, who have suffered from strict segregation policies and widespread discrimination.

New Caledonia became French in 1853, during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III, Napoleon’s nephew and heir. It became an overseas territory after World War II, with French citizenship granted to all Kanaks in 1957.