Homes torched, victims taken to safety
POLICE were dispatched into the Windy Ridge area in central Guadalcanal after a brawl on Sunday that resulted in the torching of five family homes.
Victims have been evacuated and put up in temporary shelters at the nearby Christian Care Centre at Tenaru and Nazareth Apostolic Centre (NAC) for their safety.
“About 40 men equipped with knives, stones, and other weapons entered our settlement at about 10am Sunday,” villager and eye-witness Richard Tinoni told the Solomon Star on Monday.
“Most of the villagers are in church when the men came,” he added.
“As soon as they came here, they started setting the houses on fire.”
No one was killed, but five homes were razed to the ground.
The men also destroyed food gardens, edible trees, vehicles, and water tanks.
Police said the attacking party was from Malango, while the victims were settlers from Tasimboko who now lived in the Windy Ridge area.
Mr Tinoni said the men from Malango came and shouted at them to “go back to your place”.
“Then they threw stones at our homes and setting them on fire.
“Our women and children run away and hide in the bush.
“They shouted abuse at me and set fire to my kitchen but when they went past, I put the fire off,” Mr Tinoni said.
When the Solomon Star visited the Windy Ridge area yesterday, a team of police officers was dispatched to the area to provide security for the villagers.
An officer spoken to said they were there to provide security and investigate the incident.
A village elder, Mario Sikua, said prior to Sunday’s incident, a group of boys from Malango attacked one of their boys on Saturday.
“The boy who was attacked shouted for help and when some men rushed in to his aid, the boys from Malango fled,” Mr Sikua said.
“It came as a shock that they decided to return in a large group on Sunday to attack our people,” he added.
“These people need to know that we settled here not at our own accord, but at the invitation of the chief in the area.
“We were here since 2013.
“We know our wantoks from Malango are not happy, but they must know we are here at the invitation of the chief.”
He said the attackers also stole shell money and about $6,000 cash from the homes that they entered and burned down.
Windy Ridge is part of the alienated land acquired by then Levers Solomons Ltd during the colonial days.
It was once the residential quarters for Levers Solomons local employees.
The place was abandoned at the height of the ethnic tensions in 2000.
A statement from the police late yesterday said they have been informed that a chief from the suspected arsonists’ village had met the victims’ elders to work out ways to settle the matter.
“A meeting will be held tomorrow (today) and police have already moved the victims for their safety.
“Police have brought the situation under control and surrounding communities are urged to refrain from any retaliation, but allow police to carry out its investigations,” the statement said.
Police said they are yet to make any arrests.
By LESLEY SANGA