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New Caledonia protests continue as French deploy thousands of police officers

THOUSANDS of French police officers were deployed to New Caledonia today as protesters continued to block roads over attacks on indigenous people’s right to vote.

The protests began last week following anger among the Kanak people over a constitutional amendment approved in France that would change who is allowed to participate in elections.

Local leaders in the French-ruled Pacific island have raised concerns that the change will dilute the Kanak vote.

At least six people, the youngest being 17, have been killed in the unrest which has seen businesses burnt and roads barricaded.

More than 200 people have been arrested so far.

Field Action Co-ordination Cell, the group organising the protests, said blockades will continue and urged protesters to use a peaceful approach.

Police dismantled 76 roadblocks in a major operation to regain control of a 37-mile road between the capital Noumea and the international airport, the high commission said today.

Noumea mayor Sonia Lagarde said that, despite the arrival of hundreds of police reinforcements, the situation was “far from getting back to calm.”

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