French police have fatally shot an alleged gunman in New Caledonia, marking a dramatic escalation in the nearly two-month-long unrest plaguing the French Pacific territory.

Local prosecutors confirmed the incident, which occurred during a gun battle in the Mont-Dore district outside Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia. This latest development has brought the death toll from the ongoing unrest to 10 individuals.

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According to sources close to the case, the suspect was engaged by members of the GIGN elite tactical unit, who were deployed to clear roadblocks set up amidst the civil unrest.

The operation turned violent when the police, attempting to arrest individuals linked to previous gun attacks in the area, came under fire themselves. In response, the GIGN officers returned fire, resulting in the fatal shooting of the suspect.

The unrest in New Caledonia began in mid-May, primarily fueled by protests against a proposed expansion of the electoral roll.

Indigenous Kanak people have expressed fears that the expansion could marginalize their community, potentially jeopardizing their aspirations for independence by ensuring a permanent minority status.

In response to the escalating violence, demonstrators have resorted to barricading roads and engaging in acts of vandalism, including burning vehicles, looting businesses, and damaging public buildings.

The French government has responded robustly to the crisis, deploying thousands of troops and police personnel to restore order and quell the unrest. The situation remains tense as authorities continue efforts to stabilize the region amidst widespread civil disobedience.

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New Caledonia, located approximately 17,000 kilometers from Paris, holds strategic importance for France due to its nickel resources and geopolitical position in the Pacific.

The territory has been a focal point of tensions between indigenous Kanak communities seeking greater autonomy or independence and those advocating for continued ties with France.

As investigations into the recent shooting continue, local authorities are working to address the underlying grievances driving the protests while maintaining public safety.

The incident underscores the volatile nature of the situation in New Caledonia and the challenges faced in reconciling competing political aspirations amidst escalating violence.

 

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members