MILITANTS SEIZING HONIARA, SAY RADIO REPORTS

SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 5, 2000 - PINA Nius Online)---Militants have seized key installations in the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara, according to radio reports monitored here.

They say the militant Malaita Eagle Force and possibly some police and prison officers have seized the police armory and the country's telecommunications facilities.

They are calling for the removal of Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa‘alu and the police commissioner, the radio reports say.

Sean Dorney, of Radio Australia, reported this morning:

"The Malaita Eagle Force was established last year by young men from the heavily populated island of Malaita to do battle with the Isatabu Freedom Fighters - a militia group from Guadalcanal who had begun attacking and terrorizing Malaitan settlers on Guadalcanal.

"According to people in the Solomons who've contacted Radio Australia the Eagle Force had given the Parliament a deadline of today to pay a massive compensation claim for the property of Malaitan people destroyed by their Guadalcanal opponents, the Isatabu Freedom Fighters. Reports from Honiara say heavily armed Eagle Force members have been roaming the streets all weekend."

Australia's Foreign Affairs Department says it has confirmation that armed rebels have taken over key installations in Honiara.

The Department says members of the Malaita Eagle Force rebel group took control of some police stations and the telecommunications early this morning, Radio Australia reported.

They have also taken control of major intersections in Honiara.

There has been ongoing unrest on Guadalcanal, where Honiara is situated, involving the Malaita Eagle Force and the Isatabu Freedom Fighters from Guadalcanal. An estimated 60 people have been killed and hundreds forced to flee their homes in the past 18 months.

The Guadalcanal militants claim Malaitans dominate business and government and are now taking over Guadalcanal land.

Earlier, Radio Australia said there are reports of increasing militant action around Honiara.

The reports include militants setting up roadblocks and seizing installations in and near Honiara.

A message sent to Radio Australia's website claimed that members of the Malaita Eagle Force have taken over the country's police headquarters, telecommunications and the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

Efforts to ring Honiara from Suva have been unsuccessful.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org  

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