More unrest in New Caledonia after protest leaders extradited

South Pacific © Delphine Mayeur/AFP
© Delphine Mayeur/AFP

Pro-independence protesters in New Caledonia set fire to buildings, including a police station and a town hall, in a new wave of unrest in the French Pacific territory, after jailed protest leaders were extradited to France.

The High Commission in Noumea, which represents the French state in the archipelago, said Monday that "several fires were extinguished" overnight, Sunday to Monday, particularly in Ducos and Magenta, adding that "the premises and vehicles of the municipal police and private vehicles" were set on fire.

Protesters had also set fire to the town hall in the Koumac commune and destroyed areas in Paita.

Many schools were closed Monday morning, due to the renewed unrest.

Anger erupted over the extradition to the French mainland of seven independence activists indicted last week for their role in allegedly orchestrating riots last month.

'Colonial tactics'

Protests broke out in May over a proposed electoral reform that Indigenous Kanak people feared would leave them in a permanent minority.

On Monday, the group to which the extradited activists belong to, called for their "liberation and immediate return" to New Caledonia, publishing a statement in which it called France's extradition of them "colonial tactics".

Daniel Goa, president of Caledonian Union, the biggest pro-independence political party, said in a statement he was "astonished" at the extradition.

"All they have done has been to organise more peaceful demonstrations," he said. He denied the prosecutor's allegations the group's spokesperson Christian Tein and the others were sponsors of violence.

Police had arrested Tein last week, and authorities justified his extradition on the grounds that his detention in New Caledonia posed a security risk.

(with newswires)

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