23 Aug 2005

Tongan police say destruction of king's house was arson.

1:32 pm on 23 August 2005

Police in Tonga say arsonists are to blame for the destruction of a house owned by the King early this morning.

The Police Commander, Sinilau Kolokihakaufisi, says fire units were sent out to the unoccupied house at around four o'clock this morning.

The building was located at Mu'a in the village of Tatakamotonga, near the capital, Nuku'alofa.

The fire comes during a strike by thousands of public service workers, and follows vandalism of government property last week.

Commander Kolokihakaufisi says there is evidence that someone deliberately lit the latest fire.

"We suspect an accelerant was used, maybe kerosene or benzene. The fence was cut, somebody cut the fence to get inside. We are visiting the situation now."

The commander says police have not made a definite connection to the strike.