1 Dec 2010

RAMSI on alert after unrest in Honiara following Minister's sentencing

6:37 am on 1 December 2010

Police with the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, or RAMSI, remain on alert in Honiara after rioting following the sentencing of a cabinet minister.

Supporters of the former militant Jimmy Lusibaea threw stones at police outside the High Court in the Solomons capital Honiara yesterday after he was sentenced to two years and nine months jail for charges related to the ethnic tensions.

Our correspondent, Dorothy Wickham, says RAMSI officers were initially in the firing line.

"There was a RAMSI truck with, I think, two Kiwi officers inside that were shot at with stones. Windows were smashed and stuff. But they managed to leave the area. I think it was just a quick reaction at the time that they heard the announcement of the sentence. And then, after that had calmed down the whole town went into a bit of a panic."

Solomon Islands police say 37 people, who were allegedly involved in yesterday's incident, were arrested.

The Solomon Star paper says the Police Commissioner, Peter Marshall, confirmed the figure, adding those arrested will also be charged.

Commissioner Marshall said one local police officer was injured in yesterday's operation.

He said two shops in China town were unlawfully entered into by the mob.

He confirmed that police used two canisters of teargas at one stage to disperse the mob.

Mr Marshall said he had briefed the Prime Minister and the cabinet on the security situation yesterday and they were pleased.