30 Nov 2010

Solomons police say Honiara strife contained

4:15 pm on 30 November 2010

Police in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara say a disturbance caused by criminal elements is now under control.

The violence followed a court sentencing cabinet minister and former militia leader Jimmy Lusibaea to two years and nine months jail for wounding another person and assaulting a police officer during the ethnic tensions.

The group began throwing stones at police outside the High Court and then moved into the centre of the city, sparking panic among businesspeople and shoppers.

Our correspondent, Dorothy Wickham, says people pressed to get out of the city, fearing a riot similar to the destruction caused to Chinatown in April 2006.

The police deputy commissioner, Walter Kola, says they have the situation under control.

"The situation now is being contained. We have cleared Point Cruz, we have cleared the High Court, we have cleared the market as well and also Chinatown. We have pushed them away and they are now going back to their homes, but we will try and contain the situation from now up until late this afternoon. There are a few pockets of individuals that are showing anger to the police in certain spots in Honiara, especially at the commercial areas."

Police deputy commissioner, Walter Kola, says those causing the strife are opportunists, not necessarily supporters of Lusibaea.

He says they are yet to make any arrests.