Solomon Islands tells public workers to stay home as violent protests continue for third day

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Protests in the Pacific Islands nation of Solomon Islands turn violent as people set off firebombs, throw rocks at police and clash with activists

Solomon Islands tells public workers to stay home as violent protests continue for third day

Hundreds of public servants in Solomon Islands have called off their strike, a day after violent protests by private sector workers escalated into looting and arson attacks.

The Australian government earlier offered to send troops and police to the Solomons if protests over rising petrol prices and a debt bill spiralled out of control.

People in the Pacific island nation – described by Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull as “a close friend” – set off firebombs, smashed windows of international businesses, burned police cars and attacked churches on Wednesday.

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The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and New Zealand police are reportedly on the scene, waiting for further orders.

Civil defence officials said more than 1,000 people were involved in looting. But several large churches and a police station were damaged in the peaceful but violent protests.

On Thursday thousands of public servants returned to work while many private sector workers stopped work, including teachers, lawyers and nurses.

Protesters also clashed with activists outside a bar in the southern Solomons capital, Honiara, which belongs to Radio Australia, a public broadcaster, which is owned by the Australian government.

The Samoan owner of the bar said police had demanded identification from his clientele.

The government has signed a debt relief agreement with the International Monetary Fund and will need to pay it back. In exchange, Solomon Islands plans to introduce more services, including child and maternal health services.

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