Police in the Solomon Islands have confirmed three burned bodies, including two teenagers, have been found in the capital of Honiara. The National Disaster Management Office said it was in contact with the police and the National Disaster Council to establish the identities of the bodies.
The blaze began shortly after a demonstration involving hundreds of people, accusing police of failing to intervene in a “dangerous situation.”
Solomon Islands is a group of a dozen Pacific island nations which collectively comprise the world’s most biodiverse marine ecosystem. It was a British territory until 1978 and retains many colonial legacies, including stringent immigration laws, almost exclusively English-speaking populations and a vigorous Christian clergy.
Riots and political violence have re-emerged as the country continues to grapple with socio-economic issues, including a resurgence of native militias. Reports of property destruction, sporadic outbreaks of violence and a rise in crime by religious groups are a recurrent feature of modern Solomon Islands.
Militia groups exist at both political and economic levels, often perpetrating violence at the behest of politicians and elite tribes or providing security at designated fields for tobacco, logging, and farming operations.
The government has previously implemented significant initiatives to disarm the country’s militia — measures made more difficult by rising inflation in 2018.
Police, the military and tribal leaders have been involved in a fierce political fight, with assassinations and other violent incidents often occurring in the capital.
Solomon Islands’ economy has struggled as oil and gas projects have dried up and the value of the local kina, Solomon’s primary currency, dropped by as much as 60 percent in 2018.
The Solomon Islands Police Force said it was investigating the incident.