SOLOMONS QUIET AS POLICE CRACK DOWN ON CRIME

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (February 2, 2001 – Radio Australia)---In the Solomon Islands, a Fijian woman is in the hospital with gun shot wounds following a raid on a hotel in Honiara last night.

Police have confirmed that the woman was injured during an exchange of gunfire between police and criminals who took refuge in the hotel.

Radio Australia correspondent Dorothy Wickham reports from Honiara that the raid is the beginning of a police crackdown on crime, which resulted in all commercial banks closing their doors today.

"The beginning of a police crackdown on crime in the capital has left residents uneasy about a backlash. The main center of the town was empty early in the day but slowly shoppers ventured into the shops for their weekend groceries.

"Three commercial banks and the Central Bank of Solomon Islands closed today. A statement from the Central Bank urged everyone to respect banks, their staff and property. It said the banks will remain closed until they are assured of their safety.

"Just before lunch time the country's only telecommunications provider, Solomon Telekom, also announced their closure.

"Police meanwhile have advised civilians to take extra precautions and warned criminals that they will be dealt with harshly by police.

"The next few days will tell if police have regained control of law and order in the capital.

"Dorothy Wickham, Radio Australia, Honiara."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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