Australian defence personnel set to join more AFP officers as operations commence in ‘volatile’ Solomon Islands

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Almost 100 Australian personnel are set to leave for the Solomon Islands, following 23 federal police officers who have arrived to help secure the capital Honiara after days of rioting.

An additional 50 AFP officers and 43 Australian Defence Force members will fly to the Pacific country on Friday.

Major General Jake Ellwood has acknowledged the situation in Honiara is “tense” and “volatile”, saying the role of his troops is to support the Solomon Islands police in restoring stability.

“Our teams are well trained and equipped for the task,” he said in Townsville on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he hoped the situation would be resolved as quickly as possible.

The ADF personnel are set to depart on Friday afternoon. Credit: 7NEWS

“We have 23 AFP who arrived last night. Operations have commenced there in the Solomons this morning to ensure stability and … hopefully resume a more peaceful setting in the Solomon islands,” Mr Morrison said on Friday.

“Later today, the detachments will go from Townsville. There have already been movements from Amberley this morning to facilitate that.

“I am keeping, as you would imagine, a very close watch on the situation on the ground there.

“We have Australians who are bravely going back to the Solomon islands to support our Pacific family, to ensure that we can have stability and peace so they can resolve issues internally.”

Australian troops in Townsville preparing to fly to the Solomon Islands on Friday.
Australian troops in Townsville preparing to fly to the Solomon Islands on Friday. Credit: 7NEWS
Australian Federal Police departing Canberra for Honiara in the Solomon Islands on Thursday.
Australian Federal Police departing Canberra for Honiara in the Solomon Islands on Thursday. Credit: Australian Department of Defence/Supplied

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Australian forces had been armed with lethal and non-lethal weapons.

“Our role is to assist the Solomon Islands police force to restore law and public order as soon as we possibly can,” Andrews told ABC TV.

“This is a policing matter, not a military matter, so we are working very closely with the police force there.”

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