Buildings set on fire in Solomon Islands on riot day 3






© KEYSTONE/AP


Buildings were set on fire and shops looted in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, on the third day of the riot on Friday. Australia has started to deploy a peacekeeping force.

Thousands of people, some armed with axes and knives, attacked Chinatown and the city’s business center, an AFP journalist said.

In Chinatown, a large warehouse was set on fire, causing an explosion that scared dozens of people in panic.

The riots started on Wednesday when hundreds of people protested to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Manassah Sogavare before going to the Chinatown of Honiara. They then burned down a police station and looted businesses until the police intervened with tear gas.

New riots also rocked the capital on Thursday, leading Australia to announce the deployment of a peacekeeping force. “Twenty-three Australian Federal Police were deployed immediately yesterday, they are already on the ground in Honiara. Others will be deployed today, around 50,” Australian Home Secretary Karen Andrews said on Friday. , on Sky News, evoking a “very volatile situation”.

Neighboring Papua New Guinea announced on Friday the deployment of 34 peacekeepers.

These riots take place against a backdrop of rivalry between Taiwan and Beijing, which is worried about its interests in the Pacific archipelago. The Solomon Islands, which since 1983 had diplomatic ties with Taiwan, chose in 2019 to break with the territory to recognize the communist power of Beijing as the legitimate representative of China.

The decision of the government of the Solomon Islands had then provoked the resentment of a part of the population which maintained close relations with Taipei.

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