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New Caledonia police detain independence leader and 10 others in wake of revolt against French rule

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New Caledonia police detain independence leader and 10 others in wake of revolt against French rule
News

News

New Caledonia police detain independence leader and 10 others in wake of revolt against French rule

2024-06-19 19:28 Last Updated At:06-20 09:20

PARIS (AP) — Police in the restive French Pacific territory of New Caledonia rounded up 11 people Wednesday, including an independence leader, who are suspected of having a role in the deadly violence that wracked the archipelago where Indigenous Kanak people have long sought to break free from France.

The detentions were part of an ongoing police investigation launched May 17, just days after unrest first erupted, into a wave of armed clashes, looting, blazes and other violence that turned parts of the capital, Nouméa, and its suburbs into no-go zones.

New Caledonia’s prosecutor, Yves Dupas, said in a statement that the police round-up started in the early morning, with others detained later in the day, including some who reported to police stations of their own accord.

He said those taken in custody include Christian Tein, a leader of a pro-independence group that French officials alleged played a leading role in weeks of violence that erupted in May over contested voting reforms for New Caledonia. Dupas did not identify the 10 other people detained.

The revolt prompted France to declare a state of emergency on the archipelago and rush in reinforcements for police forces that were rapidly overwhelmed. The violence led to nine deaths, including two gendarmes, and widespread destruction of shops, businesses and homes.

The prosecutor said Wednesday's detentions were part of a police investigation into a broad array of suspected crimes, including complicity in homicide and attempted homicide, armed robbery, arson, and membership of a group created to prepare violent acts. The possible charges allow investigators to hold detainees for questioning for up to 96 hours, he said. After that, an investigating magistrate would have to decide whether police have gathered sufficient evidence to warrant formal charges.

With France now plunged into frenzied campaigning for snap parliamentary elections, French President Emmanuel Macron has suspended the reforms that would have altered voting rights in New Caledonia.

With unrest now ebbing, the French Pacific territory this week shortened its overnight curfew by two hours, pushing back its start from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. It also reopened the international airport that was closed to commercial flights for more than a month.

FILE - Police wait for the arrival of French President Emmanuel Macron at the central police station in Noumea, New Caledonia, Thursday, May 23, 2024. Police in the restive French Pacific territory of New Caledonia on Wednesday June 19, 2024 rounded up eight people, including an independence leader, suspected of having had a guiding role in deadly violence that wracked the archipelago where Indigenous Kanak people have long sought to break free from France. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)

FILE - Police wait for the arrival of French President Emmanuel Macron at the central police station in Noumea, New Caledonia, Thursday, May 23, 2024. Police in the restive French Pacific territory of New Caledonia on Wednesday June 19, 2024 rounded up eight people, including an independence leader, suspected of having had a guiding role in deadly violence that wracked the archipelago where Indigenous Kanak people have long sought to break free from France. (Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP)

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — An Iranian-made drone sent by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck Tel Aviv on Friday, leaving one person dead and at least 10 wounded in the group’s first lethal strike into Israel.

The aerial strike rumbled through the center of the city near the U.S. Embassy, causing shrapnel to rain down and spreading shards of glass over a large radius.

The hit in Israel’s biggest city was startling because the drone appeared to have crossed much of the country through the multilayered air defenses that have intercepted almost all of the drones and rockets that Yemen’s Houthis have been launching toward Israel since the Gaza war began. Most have failed even to reach Israel’s southernmost city, Eilat, on the Red Sea some 270 kilometers (160 miles) south of Tel Aviv.

The Israeli military said it was investigating what went wrong. Chief spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the drone was detected by air defenses, but an “error” occurred and “there was no interception.“

“We are investigating the entire chain,” he said. Another military official blamed “human error.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

The spokesman for the Houthis, Yahya Sare’e, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement published on the social media platform X. He said it was in retaliation for the Israel-Hamas war and had hit one of the group’s many targets.

Israel’s military identified the drone as an Iranian Samad-3 upgraded to travel long distances and said it was believed to have come from Yemen.

The drone hit at around 3:10 a.m., blowing out windows and damaging cars throughout a coastal neighborhood of Tel Aviv and reverberating as far as nearby cities. The military said it had not determined if it exploded in the air or directly struck buildings.

Footage verified by the AP shows the low-flying drone arriving at Tel Aviv's shoreline and then heading into the city, moments before an explosion lights up the night sky.

In one building, the Sajiv family swept up the shattered glass of their apartment’s balcony door. Limor Sajiv said they were woken by the sound of a blast. “We had no idea what it was. I mean, we heard missiles before we heard things, this was different, really, really loud,” he said.

People thronged to the area as police helicopters hovered overhead. For many, it reaffirmed feelings of disillusionment with the military's handling of the war since October.

Yossi Nevi, a retired evacuee from Kiryat Shmona, said he was shaken awake in the hotel he lives in. Hearing it was human error, Nevi said, made him lose “all trust in the army, not that I had much after the past nine months.”

Eldad Namdar, who owns a camera store next to the intersection where the drone is believed to have exploded, said he hopes the war ends soon, but he also wants it to be concluded in a way that secures his future.

“I don’t want this to happen again in six months, I want them to finish this situation until the end,” he said.

The U.S. State Department said there was no damage to the U.S. Embassy or any of its staff members.

The Houthi strike hit hours after Israel’s military confirmed one of its airstrikes had killed a Hezbollah commander and other militants in southern Lebanon. Israel has so far not made attacks on the Houthis, allowing its allies instead to take the lead as it focuses its efforts on the war in Gaza and ongoing fighting with Hezbollah.

The attack also comes days before Netanyahu is to travel to Washington and address Congress.

The Houthis have routinely claimed responsibility for hitting targets in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Analysts and Western intelligence services have long accused Iran of arming the group, a claim that Tehran denies. In recent years, U.S. naval forces have intercepted a number of ships packed with rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and missile parts en route from Iran to Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

The Houthis maintain that their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the United States or the United Kingdom. However, many have little or no connection to the war.

Friday’s drone strike on Tel Aviv could resurface fears about the war in Gaza becoming a regionwide conflagration.

Such fears run counter to renewed hopes that Israel signaling its operation underway in Rafah is nearing its finish could foster an environment more conducive to negotiations as international mediators continue to push for a cease-fire. The deal under discussion would halt fighting and free about 120 Israeli hostages held by the militant group in Gaza.

Israel remains divided over striking a deal, with some wanting the government to take the necessary steps to free the hostages and others, including far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, disavowing the idea. On Thursday, Ben-Gvir visited Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site to pray for the return of Israeli hostages, he said, “without a reckless deal, without surrendering.”

Israel’s air defense system has intercepted thousands of projectiles throughout the war, including Hamas rocket fire from Gaza. But officials warn the systems are not 100% effective and appear to have struggled against small and hard-to-detect attack drones.

Like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis are backed by Israel’s archenemy, Iran. Israel for the most part also has avoided direct confrontations with Iran throughout the war. Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel during a single incident in April in response to Israel’s alleged assassination of a pair of Iranian generals in Syria at the time.

The war in Gaza, which was sparked by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, has killed more than 38,600 people, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. The war has created a humanitarian catastrophe in the coastal Palestinian territory, displaced most of its 2.3 million population and triggered widespread hunger.

Hamas’ October attack killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and militants took about 250 hostage. About 120 remain in captivity, with about a third of them believed to be dead, according to Israeli authorities.

Metz reported from Rabat, Morocco. Ibrahim Hazboun contributed from Jerusalem, Jack Jeffery from Ramallah, West Bank, and Michael Wakin from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

An Israeli firefighter investigates the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

An Israeli firefighter investigates the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken coffee shop window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken coffee shop window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning, leaving one dead and at least 10 injured. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man watches from his window at the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man watches from his window at the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken coffee shop window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People are seen through a broken coffee shop window next to the scene of an explosive drone attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for a drone believed to have exploded above Tel Aviv early Friday morning. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene after a deadly explosion, from his rooftop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene after a deadly explosion, from his rooftop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israelis gather at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israelis gather at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A runner stops to speak with Israeli police investigating the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A runner stops to speak with Israeli police investigating the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People watch from their balcony as Israeli police investigate the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

People watch from their balcony as Israeli police investigate the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man eats breakfast in a cafe near the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man eats breakfast in a cafe near the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of a deadly explosion, from his rooftop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A man films the scene of a deadly explosion, from his rooftop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Israeli police investigate the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Caution tape surrounds debris at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

Caution tape surrounds debris at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

Israeli police and first responders gather at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

Israeli police and first responders gather at the scene of a deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

People gather at the scene of an deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

People gather at the scene of an deadly explosion in Tel Aviv, Israel, early Friday, July 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Erik Marmor)

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