7 Feb 2017

French authorities lift overnight curfew of New Caledonia road

6:36 am on 7 February 2017

The French authorities have allowed the road south of New Caledonia's capital to remain open last night after a week of closing it at night for security reasons.

Just over a week ago, unidentified gunmen fired at traffic and also injured two police officers near St Louis, prompting a 36-hour closure of the only access road to the main island's south.

On Friday, about 2000 people rallied outside the French High Commission to show their exasperation over the insecurity and nightly road closure which affected most residents.

The High Commissioner Thierry Lataste said in the past three months, 60 police operations were carried out in St Louis, involving at least 40 police officers every time.

Since the end of October, he said, 11 people had been jailed and 48 had been detained.

He said the individuals who shot at police last weekend and injured two officers must be arrested and this should happen soon.

Kanak leaders have been alarmed at earlier comments by a High Commission official who warned of a military-style operation if St Louis residents failed to hand over the suspected gunmen.

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