Ouvéa cave hostage taking

Ouvéa cave hostage taking

The Ouvéa cave hostage taking was an event occurring from April 22, 1988 to May 5, 1988 in which members of the separatist group the National Union for Independence-Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front took 27 including a French gendarme and a judge hostage in the island of Ouvéa, New Caledonia demanding instant independence of New Caledonia from France.

The French government refused to negotiate and give in to the groups demands and sent a joint hostage recovery team that consisted of:

The Assault

The assault "Operation Victor" was initiated on the 4th of May at around 2200 hours. Around seventy-four operators moved into the forest towards the hostage location. The rebels numbered around 30, and were well armed.

The hostages had been located in the Gossannah cave, a series of caves on the Ouvéa Island. The assault team moved into their final assault positions roughly 300 metres parallel from the cave entrance.

The Commando Hubert operators were tasked to neutralise the AA52 7.5mm medium machine gun which was located at the entrance to the cave and would pin down any approaching force and increase the risk of the hostages being harmed. The 11e Choc were to neutralise the other Kanak positions located to the south. A joint GIGN and Commando Hubert team would approach the entrance to the cave where the hostage were located. The attack started at 0615 hours and the assault teams realised they were in the wrong position than they should have been. A Puma helicopter was supposed to provide a noise distraction was three minutes late and three hundred metres off target. As a result the separatists were pre-warned of the assault and had time to pull back inside the caves. Some Kanak sentries spotted the approaching assault team who had moved too far North than they should have and opened fire wounding a Commando Hubert operator. Another operator shot and killed the sentry that had fired. Another assault force member was killed as they crossed the open ground in front of the cave. The Commando Hubert team cleared a fifty-metre area in front of the machine gun position with flame throwers.

The hostages managed to escape in the confusion, and the Kanak group surrendered but at the end of the assault : Nineteen hostage-takers and two members of the military were killed. According to the Chevènement Report : "Some acts of barbary have been committed by the French military in contradiction with their military duty". In several autopsies, it appeared that most of the Kanak activists had been executed and the leader of the hostage-takers, Alphonse Dianou, who was severely injured via being shot in the leg, had been left without medical care and died a couple hours later.

See also

  • List of hostage crises
  • Bernard Pons, French Minister for Overseas Territories at the time, who dealt with the matter.

External links

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