ETHNIC TENSION WORSENING IN SOLOMON ISLANDS

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By Michael Field

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (June 14, 1999 - Agence France-Presse)---Two people have been killed and thousands of people are being driven out of villages on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands as tension between islanders sharply worsens, diplomatic and media sources said Monday.

Unconfirmed reports say the two killed were an old man and a five year old boy from Malaita Island who were allegedly knifed Saturday by men from Guadalcanal.

Members of a group calling themselves the "Guadalcanal Liberation Army" have been going through villages ordering any non-Guadalcanal residents out.

Both Australia and New Zealand have warned their nationals not to go to the Solomons as the militants blockaded the capital, Honiara, on Guadalcanal.

On Saturday, the group attacked a group of Malaitan islanders near Honiara.

Police have only confirmed that two people were killed but will not give details. Sources say the two came from an area of Malaita known for its "pay-back" or revenge culture and there are fears the news will widen the violence.

The main hospital in Honiara is being "flooded" with people suffering knife and gunshot wounds, officials said. They would give no other details.

Solomon Islands Plantations, Ltd. announced Monday that 1,005 workers and their families were being brought into the capital for their safety. Village sources said the refugee flow could quickly rise to 10,000.

An International Red Cross representative from Suva is in Honiara to review the situation.

Over the weekend, police broadcast instructions to members of its para-military Police Field Force on the border to return to the capital, while policemen from elsewhere throughout the country also have been ordered to Honiara.

The so-called Guadalcanal Liberation Army is made up of indigenous Guadalcanal islanders with the aim of driving out people from Malaita Island, but in the last week they have begun driving out any non-Guadalcanal people.

To an outsider there is little difference between any of the islanders, who are all Melanesian and are related.

Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu, who is from Malaita, Monday announced his government would give US$ 500,000 to the Guadalcanal Provincial Government as compensation "in recognition of the social impacts Guadalcanal has to bear by hosting the national capital and major development activities."

Meanwhile, former prime minister and opposition leader Solomon Mamaloni, who has been accused of fomenting the trouble as a way to bring down the government, is reportedly working to end the tension.

However, sources say he has advised members of his extended family and island group to leave Guadalcanal for their personal safety.

The trouble has been brewing for seven months, but last week suddenly took on a coordinated appearance with two fronts advancing on the capital.

Guadalcanal politicians have demanded that the capital, now Honiara, be moved off the island and that the island be paid compensation for people murdered by Malaitans.

Malaitans hold most of the key posts on Guadalcanal, including police and para-military positions.

Guadalcanal, scene of major World War II battles, was featured recently in the Oscar nominated movie The Thin Red Line.

Michael Field Agence France-Presse New Zealand/South Pacific Tel: (64 21) 688438 Fax: (64 21) 694035 E-Mail: afp.nz@clear.net.nz

STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED IN SOLOMON ISLANDS

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (June 16, 1999 - PACNEWS/SIBC)---A state of public emergency has been declared in the Solomon Islands' province of Guadalcanal.

The Governor-General, Sir Moses Pitakaka, signed the declaration in the capital, Honiara, late yesterday afternoon after an emergency Cabinet session.

Sir Moses said the declaration was made in the light of the volatility of the present situation on Guadalcanal Island, and in the interests of preserving security and peace.

It is believed the declaration will restrict movement on the island, according to regulations yet to be decided upon by the Cabinet.

Details of the state of emergency regulations are yet to be made public.

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation reports that the Cabinet will seek Parliament's approval for the declaration today. If the declaration is to be enforced, it will need at least two-thirds majority of Parliament.

The Solomon Islands Parliament only resumed sessions this week after it was adjourned for three days because of the escalating ethnic tension between the people of Guadalcanal and Malaita.

Commissioner of Police, Frank Short, said the state of public emergency does not necessarily mean fully restricting the movement of people. He said it could be only for certain areas on Guadalcanal.

It is not clear how long the state of public emergency is expected to remain in place.

Reports from Honiara say tension between the people from the two provinces has quieted down.

A police source, however, confirmed that eight Bougainvilleans were picked up at Kakabona village, just outside the capital last week, where a policeman was shot while trying to stop clashes in the village.

There has been speculation of a possible link between Guadalcanal militants and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army.

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