France rushes emergency police reinforcements to New Caledonia

France on Thursday announced it would send additional security forces to New Caledonia after imposing a state of emergency following three nights of clashes in its Pacific territory that have left five dead and hundreds wounded.

Largely indigenous protests against a French plan to impose new voting rules on the archipelago have spiralled into the deadliest violence since the 1980s.

A gendarme was killed on Thursday, said French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, bringing the death toll to five, including two gendarmes.

A police source told AFP the gendarme was killed by friendly fire on Thursday.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said Paris would send "around 1,000 additional internal security personnel" to New Caledonia – adding to 1,700 on the ground – and push for "the harshest penalties for rioters and looters".

Attal on Wednesday night announced a state of emergency, which kicked in at 5am local time on Thursday in New Caledonia.

The emergency measures give authorities greater powers to tackle the violence, including the possibility of house detention for people deemed a threat to public order, and expanded powers to conduct searches, seize weapons and restrict movements, with possible jail time for violators.

More than 200 of an estimated 5,000 "rioters" in greater Nouméa have been arrested, the high commission said.

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