Three bodies found after days of unrest in Solomon Islands

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Australian police are now helping to patrol the capital, Honiara, which was relatively quiet on Saturday morning.

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The bodies of three people have been found in a burnt building in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara, police said on Saturday, reporting the first death since riots in the troubled city.

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The charred bodies were found in a store in the Chinatown district, which has been a target of robbers and protesters. A security guard told AFP news agency he found bodies in two rooms late Friday.

Police said forensic teams have started investigation and they are still at the scene but the cause of death is not clear.

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More than 100 people were arrested for the riots, police said on Saturday, as residents began to assess the damage done during the unrest days.

An overnight curfew has been imposed in the troubled capital after three days of violence, in which the prime minister’s house was attacked and the city area turned into smoldering ruins. 7 PM (08:00 GMT) – 6 AM (19:00 GMT) The lockdown will remain in force until canceled by the Governor General.

Australian police officers and local police monitor a crowd in Honiara on Friday after the riots [Jay Liofasi/AFP]

Australian police officers, who arrived in the country late on Thursday following a request from the government, also joined their Solomon Islands counterparts by taking to the streets to help restore order and protect critical infrastructure.

Some 50 officers from the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary have also flown to Honiara.

Papua New Guinea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Soroi Eo and Australian Foreign Minister Maris Payne said in a joint statement: “Australia and Papua New Guinea are concerned about the violent turn that the Honiara protests have taken and jointly quell tensions.” stress the importance of resolving peacefully.” ,

“Our goal is to help restore peace and operate normal constitutional processes,” he said.

The outburst of violence is partly the result of frustration with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogaware’s government and chronic unemployment – a situation made worse by the pandemic.

Experts say the crisis has also been triggered by a long-standing rivalry between residents of the most populous island of Malaita and the central government on the island of Guadalcanal.

The archipelago of about 700,000 people has endured decades of ethnic and political tensions.

Malaita residents have long complained that their island is neglected by the central government, and divisions have intensified since Sogaware abruptly granted China diplomatic recognition from Taiwan in 2019.

Songware blamed foreign forces for the unrest on Friday, but did not name them.

The Malayan premier, Daniel Suidani, is known for his outspoken opposition to the Solomon Islands’ China policy, and has maintained an informal diplomatic relationship with Taiwan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suidani spent five months in Taiwan earlier this year, apparently to receive medical treatment for an unknown brain condition.

Sogaware has been prime minister on four separate occasions since 2001, and opposition leader Mathew Vale has called on the veteran politician to resign. On Saturday, the Solomon Islands Herald reported that Vale was filing a motion of no confidence in Sogaware. Although it did not have the numbers to succeed, Valle said the prime minister’s “lack of humility” had contributed to the crisis and that a political solution was necessary to end the violence.

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