19 Apr 2006

Solomons police appeal for calm to quell rioting

3:27 pm on 19 April 2006

The Police Commissioner in the Solomon Islands has called for calm after a night of violence by roaming gangs armed with knives and axes looted from shops earlier in the night.

In the early hours of this morning offenders turned their attention to the Pacific Casino Hotel.

The hotel was set on fire and severe damage was caused to the building before the fire service managed to extinguish the flames.

About nine Police vehicles have been destroyed by fire with dozens more severely damaged after they were pelted with rocks.

Nineteen PPF members have been treated for injuries ranging from broken jaw, head injuries and lacerations.

Most of the injuries were caused when police were pelted with rocks.

Five RSIP officers have been injured in the violence.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports from police on the streets indicate that about 90% of the buildings in Chinatown have been destroyed.

Police have used tear gas on a number of occasions during the night in an effort to disperse crowds of up to 300 people.

The main trouble spots have been Parliament House, Lawson Tama, Point Cruz, Chinatown and the Pacific Casino Hotel at Kukum.

The Police Commissioner will today meet the Solomon Islands Attorney General and the Governor General to discuss the possibility of invoking the Preservation of Public Security Act.

That may see a curfew applied in an effort to restore peace to the city.