Boots on the ground, guns and tear gas have become a part of daily life in the Western Pacific’s Solomon Islands after four weeks of protests erupted last month over planned electoral reforms.
In total, 28 people have been killed in a conflict that is threatening to destabilize the region.
Protests for electoral reform started on October 16. But a 24-hour police roadblock and the barring of an independent media freedom group from covering the protests sparked by the so-called “Fiji Coup” went viral.
The violence quickly spread into wider riots and arson.
The unrest has been brewing since last April when voters rejected a referendum reordering the country’s political system.
Video footage shows masked men using sledgehammers to break out windows in buildings and stoning cars parked in the streets. At least one protestor is seen shooting a gun.
And officers armed with guns and tear gas rushed to the scene when another crowd broke through a barrier blocking hundreds of fleeing demonstrators from entering the capital Honiara.
But fighting has since spread to the surrounding areas.
Photos posted to social media show tires have been burned, main roads barricaded by boulders and a bridge over a river has been torn apart.
Radio Australia said at least one death was reported.
The opposition Solomon Islands Party (SOP) insisted the violence did not come from the party.
“The people who have been injured or killed were not SOP members. In the past few days we were hearing people saying ‘many of our family members have been injured’. The report I received was that they were staying in shared homes, so from our families’ point of view the people that have been injured or killed have nothing to do with the party.”