24 May 2024

Police officer detained after seventh death in New Caledonia

24 May 2024

The French prosecutor for New Caledonia said a police officer has been taken into custody after shooting and killing a man when the officer was set upon by a group of about 15 people.

Yves Dupas says the officer is believed to have fired one shot, killing a 48-year-old man on Friday afternoon.

It is the seventh shooting death reported since unrest erupted on May 13 on the archipelago over contested voted reforms.

The latest death comes a day after French President Emmanuel Macron made an emergency round-trip from Paris to de-escalate the violence in New Caledonia, where Indigenous Kanak people have long sought independence from France.

The prosecutors’ statement said the officer and a colleague were driving in an area north of the capital, Noumea, on Friday afternoon – just hours after Mr Macron took off on his return to Paris – when they “were physically attacked by a group of around 15 individuals”.

“The official allegedly used their service weapon by firing a shot to extract themselves from this physical altercation. A 48-year-old man was fatally shot,” the statement added.

It said the officers’ faces showed traces of having received blows.

The prosecutor said he has opened a voluntary homicide investigation into the shooting – customary for French officers in such cases – and the officer is in custody for questioning.

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