A tourist boat was attacked off the island of Ouvea in New Caledonia by men armed with rifles and sabers, without serious injuries, local media reported Thursday.
Saber boarding in hand
In a statement, the prosecutor, Alexis Bouroz, confirmed the incident that occurred Monday afternoon near Beautemps Beaupré Island, a coral atoll north-west of Ouvéa. Two Australian tourists and three companions came to observe the underwater world with a boat from a luxury yacht, the Masteka 2, which anchored further offshore. "It was then that a boat from Ouvéa came to meet them with 7 to 8 people on board, some of them apparently armed with guns and sabers," said the public prosecutor.
The attackers fired shots in the air, in the windshield and fender of the boat, before boarding. "The skipper was taken apart, beaten and put on the ground with a rifle on the temple," also told the radio station 1st , Vincent Ventrella, operator of the boat. He said that the boat on which the attackers were located was that of a local tour operator. The ship was then looted while one of its engines and electronic equipment was destroyed. Australian tourists and their guides were ordered to leave the premises.
An open investigation for aggravated violence
According to Vincent Ventrella, a request had been formally made to the traditional Kanak authorities of the region to visit this atoll, a tribal reserve inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List. "It seems that there are discrepancies as to the exact content of the authorization granted, some mentioning (...) a duration of only three days and limited in any case to the mere realization of photographic snapshots", however said Alexis Bouroz, recommending "the greatest caution" in this case, of which all the protagonists "have not yet been heard".
The main perpetrator was identified while an investigation was opened for aggravated violence, theft with violence and degrading by means dangerous to the people. In a statement, the president of the southern province, Sonia Backés, strongly condemned this aggression, "highly detrimental to tourism activities.