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Eight Arrested in New Caledonia Amid Ongoing Unrest, Including Independence Leader

Noumea, June 19, 2024, The Europe Today: Police in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia arrested eight individuals on Wednesday, including prominent independence leader Christian Tein, amid ongoing investigations into the deadly violence that has plagued the region.

The arrests are part of a broader police operation that began on May 17, shortly after violent unrest erupted in the archipelago. Indigenous Kanak people, who have long sought independence from France, were at the forefront of the disturbances that escalated into armed clashes, looting, and widespread arson, turning parts of the capital, Noumea, and its suburbs into no-go zones.

The early morning raids prompted heightened security measures, with many businesses, shops, and the Noumea town hall closing in anticipation of potential further unrest. Chief Prosecutor Yves Dupas confirmed that Christian Tein, a leading figure in the Field Action Coordination Cell (CCAT), a branch of the Caledonian Union, was among those detained. Tein was arrested on charges related to “organized crime,” which allows for detention of up to 96 hours.

The recent wave of violence, which resulted in the deaths of nine individuals, including two police officers, was triggered by French government reforms that extended voting rights to thousands of French residents who have lived in New Caledonia for at least ten years. This decision has been met with fierce resistance from the Indigenous Kanak population, who view it as a threat to their quest for independence.

The situation in New Caledonia remains tense, as authorities continue their efforts to restore order and address the underlying issues driving the conflict.