Solomon Islands public servants told to stay home as rioters continue to riot

Scores of police reinforcements deployed by Australian government and defence forces after rioters attacked two airports in Honiara

Solomon Islands has ordered its public servants to stay home as rioters continued their violent protests across the country that have raged for three days.

Despite strong demand by protesters for food, fuel and water, hundreds of police reinforcements have been deployed by the Australian government and defence forces as the situation continues to be volatile.

Violence broke out on Sunday following the government’s dismissal of four MPs. Prime minister, Dr Manasseh Sogavare, told opposition leader, Nick Kotsiria, to “get lost” and called the police commissioner, Tom Kulunga, “a thief”.

The mob attacked the parliament building, the national parliament building and two airports. There were at least four deaths and severe injuries.

On Tuesday evening rioters attacked the tarmac at Solomon’s heliport in Temotu, forcing the cancellation of two flights. On Wednesday, there was a report of an attack on the police chief general.

He later issued a statement saying he was attacked in his car and the police commissioner and one other officer were injured. He did not make any direct reference to the assault.

The government has also suspended two other ministers who have been linked to the unrest in Honiara.

The Solomon Islands is a French colony and became a independent state in 1978. A large Japanese military base, currently serving as bases for the Australian and US militaries, is located in the capital Honiara.

The public sector is low paid, with 5,000 civil servants receiving between $250 and $1,000 a month.

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