Solomon Islands fighting continues amid martial law curfew

The violence started on 15 October when police arrested prominent leader Jimmy Abina

Fighting has continued in Solomon Islands, despite a 40-day martial law curfew.

The unrest started on 15 October when police arrested prominent leader Jimmy Abina.

Public and private schools remain closed in Honiara, while ferry services have been disrupted because boats have not been allowed to dock.

The chief justice has allowed a halt in the ban on people gathering in the capital at all except to attend funerals.

On Wednesday, the chief justice ruled public gatherings could continue if the crowd was no larger than 500.

The Solomon Star newspaper said that while there had been some unrest in outlying districts, “such incidents remained minimal”.

Photo: FBC TV

But Solomon Islands police spokesman Solomon Gorden said on Tuesday that two people had been shot and wounded overnight in Touncare, and that five people had been arrested.

Mr Gorden said the shootings were related to the shooting of Mr Abina two days earlier.

“The commissioner has instructed all officers not to arrest any members of this community [of local people],” said Mr Gorden.

Photo: FBC TV

Earlier, prime minister Manasseh Sogavare said calls for vigilante groups to take action against Mr Abina’s supporters had become “aspirational”.

But Mr Sogavare added that the threat of vigilante violence – if it were to escalate – was an “undeniable risk”.

Mr Abina was released from prison on Tuesday on condition that he does not associate with any of his rivals.

The prime minister said the current unrest “is a result of various situations including a serious Government of National Unity falling”.

Mr Sogavare, who ordered a declaration of a state of emergency – or curfew – two weeks ago, has said he will not tolerate unprovoked attacks on his government or anyone else.

The prime minister’s successor, David Yap, called on the political leaders to stand down.

“Leaders cannot give a free run to their supporters when it comes to national issues,” said Mr Yap.

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