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France declares state of emergency in New Caledonia amid fatal riots

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France has imposed a state of emergency in New Caledonia as the overseas territory in the South Pacific is rocked by violent unrest, the office of President Emmanuel Macron announced in Paris following a crisis meeting on Wednesday.

Declaring a state of emergency makes it easier for the authorities to impose curfews and ban demonstrations, among other actions.

At least three people have died in the riots that raged after France’s National Assembly approved contentious voting reforms to the territory that angered independence supporters.

Several hundred people have been injured so far.

Macron expressed his shock at the deaths and the serious injuries suffered by a police officer, the presidential office said. The acts of violence were intolerable and the state would crack down to restore order, it said.

A demonstrator waves a flag of the socialist National Liberation Front of the Kanaks (FLNKS) at a vehicle checkpoint in Noumea amid protests related to a debate on a draft constitution aimed at expanding the electorate for upcoming elections in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia. More than 130 people were arrested in New Caledonia as violent protests rocked the French archipelago in the Pacific. Theo Rouby/AFP/dpa

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