1 Nov 2007

Tongan soldiers in alleged brawl with drunk Solomon Islands youths

8:19 pm on 1 November 2007

Solomon Islands police are investigating claims that Tongan soldiers attached to the Regional Assistance Mission, RAMSI, were involved in a brawl which has resulted in several youths in North Malaita being hospitalised.

The Malu'u provincial police station in North Malaita has confirmed that five victim statements have been taken following several incidents over the past week in and around the village of Manakwai.

The soldiers and the youths had first clashed over a break-in at a fuel depot and later at the Tongans camp site.

Our correspondent Dorothy Wickham says the alleged brawl erupted when the soldiers, on a third occasion, confronted a number of young people who were drunk on homebrew.

"And when they tried to talk to them, because I think the villagers were complaining about them, the young men started causing problems and an uproar broke out between the two groups - the Tongan soldiers and the young men - and as a result some of these youths were beaten up and from my understanding the youngsters had instigated the fight."

Dorothy Wickham