STORY: France declared a state of emergency in its overseas territory New Caledonia on Wednesday (May 15) .

Riots in the past few days have led to the deaths of several indigenous Kanak people, and a police official, who died from a gunshot wound.

The unrest came after Paris approved new changes to voting rules, letting French residents who've lived in New Caledonia for 10 years vote in provincial elections, a move the indigenous Kanak fear dilutes their votes.

These images of burnt-out buildings and looted stores in the capital Noumea were filmed by Yoan Fleurot, a 37-year-old businessman, on Thursday.

He says he's had to pass through road blockades the past few days, controlled by armed men who threatened to beat up civilians and torch vehicles.

"What is really happening is that, as I move a lot to see family members or keep an eye on my properties, I see everything on the roads, I see the stores looted by the people, I see the fires in the docks, warehouses, offices."

"I admit, even I carry a gun with me all the time, to handle any situation."

Fleurot feels that the unrest was fueled by groups who sought the departure of non-indigenous Caledonians.

"They want to scare people so that people, all Caledonians combined, or certain Caledonians, leave the country."

"It is a Caledonia that is not recognizable today."

The state of emergency announced this week is set to last 12 days.

It imposes a curfew and bans public gatherings.

France will also send police reinforcements to bolster local security forces.

French troops have also been ordered to help secure New Caledonia's main port and airport.

Authorities also decided to ban video app TikTok.

The French government said the app helped rioters organize, and amplified chaos, during riots on France's mainland last summer, attracting troublemakers to the streets.

Electoral reform is the latest flashpoint in a decades-long tussle over France's role in the mineral-rich island.

New Caledonia, some 900 miles east of Australia in the southwest Pacific, is the world's third-largest nickel producer, and has long been rocked by pro-independence movements.

France annexed the island in 1853 and gave the colony the status of overseas territory in 1946.