Vigilantes burn up streets of Solomons capital after ethnic violence prompts firing by police

The bodies of three people, thought to be three Chinese nationals, were found near a highway in the southern Solomon Islands capital of Honiara after reported residents of the Chinatown neighborhood took to the streets to protest the police seizure of 11 vehicles and two lorries from them, prompting police to step in to separate the two groups.

The three burned bodies were not found until after the roads leading to Chinatown were blocked off, and the police who entered to conduct the investigation were met with rifle-toting mobs. The fight began after local authorities raided a vehicle carrying suspected drug traffickers. According to some reports, it became a riot, with police firing tear gas and live ammunition. One minor was reported to have been hurt by a stray bullet, and local media reported that protesters had ripped up and burned streets signs.

In the wake of the unrest, many local businesses in Chinatown shut down, and it was unclear when they would reopen. The three bodies were said to have been on the streets for hours, before being found. The government is reportedly investigating the incident, but already the country’s prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has vowed “swift and immediate” action.

The three burnt bodies have been identified as Wang Lu Fan, 56, Hong Chen Yuehao, 39, and Liao Man Wen, 59. Chinese media reports that the three had been forced into carrying documents allegedly provided by the police in order to access vehicles seized from them during the raids. The report also cites evidence that claimed the three had previously been involved in drug trafficking.

Read the full story at the Guardian.

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