Solomons police overrun, Australia deploying support personnel

By rnz.co.nz and is republished with permission.

Police in Solomon Islands were overrun today as rioters and looters tore through the capital honiara.

Thursday saw more looting and burning in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara as local police were overwhelmed by angry mobs. November 2021
Thursday saw more looting and burning in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara as local police were overwhelmed by angry mobs. November 2021 Photo: Solomons/Facebook

One of our correspondents in Honiara, Elizabeth Osifelo, said exhausted police who battled looters all through the night were overwhelmed today as more people swarmed into town in defiance of the prime minister’s orders for a 36 hour lockdown.

Shops in Chinatown which had survived the earlier unrest were ransacked and burned and on the eastern side of town the Ranadi branch of Bank South Pacific was torched as too was a locally owned and operated hardware store Island Enterprise.

Elisabeth Osifelo said police were doing everything they could to try and get control of the situation but they were severely outnumbered.

“It was all looting and just chaos. So there were a whole lot of people in the Chinatown area but there were still other locations around the eastern part of Honiara that has been really badly affected. A lot of businesses and a lot of buildings have been burned,” said Elizabeth Osifelo.

Local authorities and the Prime Minister have yet to comment on the days events but a public address maybe made later tonight.

Elizabeth Osifelo said the unrest has had a massive impact on law-abiding citizens and families in and around the capital who are now running low on food and basic necessities as well as utilities like power and water which are pre-paid services in Honiara.

“Families in and around Honiara were not prepared for the basic things such as cash power, cash water and just the basic food supplies at home so the situation is and will affect a lot of families in Honiara,” she said.

Community rally to support police

In some parts of the city police numbers have been bolstered by law-abiding citizens.

Elizabeth Osifelo said attempts by rioters to ransack and burn a local police station in the Naha area were thwarted today when local residents came to the aid of police and drove the rioters away,

She said in the western part of the city citizens were helping to man barricades and supporting police to prevent looters from looting in West Honiara.

Australia sending help

Australia is deploying Defence Force personnel and federal police to support local authorities in Solomon Islands.

The ABC reports prime minister Scott Morrison saying 23 officers from AFP’s specialist response group are being deployed immediately.

A further 50 AFP officers will be deployed to support critical infrastructure on Friday as well as 43 Defence Force personnel.

Mr Morrison says the deployment is in response to a request from Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare made through the instruments of a security treaty signed with Australia in 2017.

This was the same year that the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands known as RAMSI, which helped restore law and order and rebuild the country after the bloody Ethnic Crisis of the late-nineties.

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