January 26, 2022

three dead in riots, police say

The bodies of three people killed in the unrest in the Solomon Islands were found in a burnt-out building in the capital, Honiara, police said on Saturday (November 27th).

The charred bodies were found in a store in Honiara Chinatown. A security agent told Agence France-Presse that he found the bodies in two burnt rooms on Friday evening.

An investigation has been opened to try to determine the causes of the death of the three people who died, the first since the riots began last Wednesday.

On Saturday morning, the streets of the capital were relatively quiet, with residents trying to assess the damage caused by the rioters.

Curfews and patrols

A nighttime curfew came into effect on Friday evening in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, after a third day of riots that saw the prime minister’s residence threatened, buildings burned and shops looted.

Australian police and soldiers, who had just arrived, quickly intervened to restore order, protect certain buildings and patrol, heavily armed, the streets of Honiara.

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The riots started on Wednesday when hundreds of people protested to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare before going to the Chinatown of Honiara, which has a population of 80,000.

The causes of these riots are multiple, among them the anger towards the government, the economic difficulties aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the historic rivalry between the inhabitants of the most populous island of the country, Malaita, and that of Guadalcanal where the administrative capital of this archipelago of 700,000 inhabitants is located.

Residents of Malaita Island feel abandoned by the central government, and disputes escalated when, in 2019, Sogavare’s government decided to no longer diplomatically recognize Taiwan but China.

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Beijing condemned the riots on Friday and pledged to “To ensure the security and the rights and interests of Chinese citizens and institutions”.

The World with AFP