New Caledonia shuts airport as pro-independence group says road blockades to continue

A thousand police arrived in New Caledonia from France and streets were relatively calm after a week of unrest, the French High Commission said on Monday, but roads were blocked by protesters and the airport remained shut, stranding tourists.

Blockades of roads would continue, Field Action Co-ordination Cell (CCAT), the activist group organising the protests in the French-ruled Pacific island, said in a statement, urging protesters to use a peaceful approach.

Road blocks were making it a challenge to get food supplies to stores in several areas or to provide secure travel for medical staff, New Caledonia government officials said, adding, however, that there were no shortages of supplies or staff.

Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said "the situation there is deeply concerning", after a night of fire and looting.

France's top official in the territory, Louis Le Franc, said on Sunday a police operation to regain control of the road from capital Noumea to the international airport would take several days. Gendarmes had dismantled 76 road blocks, the High Commission said on Monday.

Airline Aircalin said the airport would remained closed until Thursday.

Pro-independence political parties say they want the French government to withdraw the electoral reform before they restart talks.

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