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Australian troops arrive in the Solomon Islan -

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(generated from captions) Nearly 200 Australian soldiers and Federal Police have arrived in the Solomon Islands tonight in an attempt to bring some calm to the capital, Honiara. The Prime Minister responded immediately to a request this morning for urgent help, saying Australia won't sit by and watch the democratic process unravel. For the past two days, Honiara has been gripped by rioting and looting. And tonight the city's new casino hotel has been evacuated and is reportedly in flames. A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed on Honiara.

But it's not clear yet whether that's anything to end the rampage. Tonight, in a televised address, the newly sworn-in Prime Minister, Snyder Rini, told Solomon Islanders that he won't resign, but he is prepared to talk to the riot leaders. Dana Robertson reports.

With only hours' warning soldiers

from the first battalion in

Townsville were again preparing for

life away from home. Some were only

just back from the cyclone clean-up

if Isogawa, others have returned

from serving? The Middle East and

they are set to do duty on the

Solomon Islands. They know how to

Solomon Islands. They know how to do their job. And the situation on the

ground is grim. Violence erupted in

the wake of the Solomon Islands

election. Angry mobs congregated

outside the country's Parliament,

forcing Australian Federal police

officers to whisk the Prime

officers to whisk the Prime Minister elect to safety. 25 Australian

police have been injured. Last

police have been injured. Last night the streets of Honiara's Chinatown

were engulfed in flames. The whole

area above or towards Chinatown

there was a cloud of smoke which

there was a cloud of smoke which was bright red, you know, reflecting

bright red, you know, reflecting all of the fires that were there.

By morning the area was in ruins

with reports that only three

buildings were left standing and

tonight the situation appears to be

a little better prompting the

evacuation of the Pacific Casino

Hotel. The situation unfortunately is getting worse. We now have a lot of drunken youths, all these, what were looters are now drunk. I've just watched the Pacific Casino Hotel, which is the latest hotel in town, multimillion-dollar complex there, just going up in flames. The riots began as a protest against the election win of former deputy prime minister Snyder Rini. He's been accused of buying his victory with the backing of Taiwanese business. One analyst says the locals are angry that any hopes they had for change have disappeared. The same government has just been turned around and come back. So the political elite and a corrupt political elite from before has planted itself back in parliament with the help of Chinese money. There are already around 250 AFP officers serving in the Solomon Islands. This morning, John Howard received a written request for more. And the willingness of Australia to act so quickly sends a message to those who are trying to undo the democratic process. that we will not stand idly by and allow that to happen. I support them, my prayers are with them and I think all Australians will have them on their heart and hope very much that the situation settles soon. The Australian contingent will include the 110 soldiers from Townsville and 70 extra Federal Police officers. They arrived in Honiara early this evening and the Government's hopeful they'll help bring calm.

And I believe both the size and the swiftness of the response will send a very strong message that we are serious about supporting

the democratic process in that country. The Solomon Islands is our back door. We absolutely have to make sure that the South Pacific works. No-one's saying how long the troops will stay. We'll stay there till the job is done. We did this in December 2004,

the guys who went over initially went for a month and then we rotated that force for about another month. This may all be over in a shorter period of time, we'll have wait and see how things develop on the ground. But we'll be there till the job is done. But what's certain is that any hopes of lasting peace in the Solomons after years of bloody ethnic conflict have been dashed. Australia first intervened to stop the bloodshed in late 2000. The Townsville Peace Agreement ended the overt war, but three years ago, in a mission dubbed 'Helpem Fren', military and police from around the Pacific stepped in to end renewed violence. John howard won't say whether there was intelligence warning of this latest uprising, but he has indicated it wasn't completely unexpected. We have never said that the Solomon islands had returned to a permanent state of stability and security.

And he's prepared to send in more soldiers if they're needed. Dana Robertson, Lateline.