Several buildings torched in Solomon Islands in Anti-government protests

Several buildings were set alight in the Solomon Islands' capital Honiara. (AFP)

Numerous buildings have been set on fire in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, as thousands of protesters crowded the city's Chinatown quarter for the second day of anti-government riots.

On Thursday, witnesses and local media said that throngs disobeyed a government curfew and took to the streets.

According to live photos, several buildings were engulfed in flames, and plumes of dense black smoke billowed high above the capital.

The Solomon Islands imposed a 36-hour curfew in the capital Honiara on Wednesday after protesters demanding the prime minister's resignation stole stores and set fire to buildings, including the Pacific nation's parliament.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare ordered the lockdown in an address televised late Wednesday, following police use of tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

People from Malaita, the country's most populous island, reportedly traveled to the capital in a spillover of anger over various internal issues, including unfulfilled infrastructural pledges.

Along with public outrage about a lack of development, the Solomons government has come under fire for its 2019 decision to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan to establish a formal partnership with China.

"Our nation witnessed another sad and unfortunate event aimed at bringing a democratically elected government down," Sogavare stated.

"I had honestly thought that we had gone past the darkest days in the history of our country, however, today's events are a painful reminder that we have a long way to go."

Residents are urged to remain indoors.

A lockdown in Honiara, which would last until 7 a.m. local time on Friday, "will allow our law enforcement agencies to fully investigate the perpetrators of today's events and to prevent further lawless destruction," he said.

Along with robbing stores, rioters set fire to a thatched roof structure on the grounds of the parliament – while it was in session – and a police station, the prime minister stated.

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) has encouraged residents in and around Honiara to avoid being affected by the unrest.

"We want to make sure that our streets, schools and businesses will reopen soon after the lockdown," RSIPF deputy commissioner Juanita Matanga said in a statement.

"I am asking for your cooperation until the situation turns normal."

Publish : 2021-11-25 11:55:00

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