24 Sep 2005

French police wrest back control of Wallis airport from militants

8:15 am on 24 September 2005

Reports from Wallis island say French police have wrested back control of the international airport back from a group of militants who support the King.

The protesters had placed trucks and dumped earth on the airstrip at Hihifo, in an attempt to stop France from sending further riot squad reinforcements from New Caledonia.

The supporters of the King have been protesting against the decision by a group of local chiefs to crown a new monarch, tomorrow.

French police have negotiated the handover of the airport, but debris on the runway is yet to be cleared.

It's also reported that militants have destroyed some equipment crucial to the normal operation of the airport.

Meanwhile the number of roadblocks by backers of the King has increased, forcing schools and public services to remain closed.

Many among the King's supporters are also former career soldiers of the French army.