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Government opponents burn Parliament building in Solomon Islands, send Australian security forces

New protests began in honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, in the early hours of this morning following an attempt by demonstrators to storm the parliament building yesterday and overthrow Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

Sogavare called the developments “a sad and unfortunate event aimed at overthrowing the democratically elected government” and ordered a 36-hour curfew across Honiara.

But witnesses said angry crowds had regrouped in the Chinatown district of the capital Honiara, breaking the ban.

Protesters attacked Chinese businesses in the area and clashed with police.

Meanwhile, as incidents escalated, neighbouring Australia sent a security team of 100 police to the capital Honiara.

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Prime Minister Sogavare had asked Australia for help as part of a bilateral security agreement between the two countries.

The Canberra government said additional units would continue to be sent.

Police used tear gas to disperse the activists, while the barriers put in front of parliament by security forces were not enough to stop the demonstrators.

Gloria Hong / AFP

“There are gangs running around, the situation is very tense,” said another eyewitness, who said looting had taken place.

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Demonstrators take to the streets in Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands, reacting to the government’s launch of diplomatic relations with China. Screenshot of some Chinese businesses set on fire

Citizens oppose the Manasseh Sogavare-led government shifting diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China.

The island nation of Oceania severed ties with Taiwan in 2019, instead starting diplomatic relations with China.

Islanders have long complained of neglect by the central government and strongly oppose the latest diplomatic move.

Images posted on social media show smoke rising at different points in the capital and chinese businesses being targeted.

Opposition leader Matthew Wale called on Prime Minister Sogavare to resign, saying the growing unrest would not be suppressed by a police curfew.

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