On the third day of political violence in the Solomon Islands’ capital city, tens of thousands of people, some loaded with axes and knives, rampaged through Chinatown and the central business district.
On Friday, police used warning shots and tear gas to disperse rioters attacking the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands’ home on the third day of political unrest that triggered the deployment of foreign soldiers.
Mobs burnt buildings and plundered the smouldering debris of shops in Honiara’s usually peaceful seaside capital while Australian police and military deployed to safeguard the port, airport, and other essential infrastructure.
AFP correspondents on the ground said tens of thousands of protesters, some holding axes and knives, rampaged through the city’s Chinatown, Point Cruz, and business districts.
“We are living in terror,” Josephine Teakeni, a local, told AFP.
“At the moment, it’s quite difficult… children will miss school, and many women will be jobless.”
Part of the outbreak of violence is due to dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s leadership and persistent unemployment worsened by the pandemic.
Long-standing antagonism between people of the country’s most populous island, Malaita, and the central government in Guadalcanal is also fueling the violence.
AFP reporters witnessed crowds expressing their anger by setting fire to at least one building near Sogavare’s home on Friday before police fired warning shots to send the mob back toward Honiara’s centre.
A big warehouse in Chinatown was set on fire, which turned into an explosion that left scores of people fleeing the area in fear.
As smoke from previous days’ fires covered areas of the devastated town of 80,000 people, a tobacco warehouse was also set fire.
Despite the fact that two police stations were among the several buildings burnt, the overwhelmed Royal Solomon Islands Police Force announced Friday that they had only made two arrests.
‘I require immediate assistance.’
The approximately 100 Australian peacekeepers arrived overnight, a few hours after Sogavare asked for rescue from his neighbours.
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