Police chiefs in Solomon Islands said they are angry and disappointed by last night's unprovoked attack on police that has left seven officers injured.The Acting Commissioner of the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP), Peter Marshall and the Commander of RAMSI's Participating Police Force (PPF), Denis McDermott held a joint press conference to express their concern over the incident.
Two RSIP officers and five RAMSI police officers were injured in the attack which occurred after police responded to a call for assistance from the Honiara settlement community of Koa Hill about 10:00 pm last night.
Acting Commissioner of Police, Peter Marshall, said the attack was all the more despicable because the officers were carrying out normal police duties when they came under attack from people in the settlement using stones and sharpened sticks.
All seven police officers are said to be seriously injured including a seriously injured female PPF officer.
"No police officer should ever be subjected to this type of treatment," Mr Marshall said.
"Police officers are here to serve the community and I am very disappointed that some members at the Koa Hill settlement turned on the officers."
Mr. Marshall said he had ordered an immediate investigation into the incident in order to locate and apprehend those responsible for the attack.
"I am pleased to announce that three men in their mid-20s have already been arrested in relation to the incident," he said.
Mr. Marshall urged community leaders to talk to their young people against such activities.
He said that it is an incident that the leaders have to deal with, adding that "community leaders need to change the attitudes in their respective communities".
The Commander of RAMSI's Participating Police Force, Denis McDermott, confirmed that RAMSI police had fired several warning shots.
"The officers that were attacked called for immediate back up after fearing they would be seriously injured," Mr. McDermott said.
Additional security personnel from the RSIP, RAMSI PPF and RAMSI military contingent were then deployed to the area, he said.
"I am really shocked by the apparent disregard for the safety of the officers. This is not how the community normally responds to the police," Mr. McDermott said.
He said the Koa Hill incident was the fifth attack on police officers in recent months.
"It is not acceptable anywhere in the world for police to be harassed and attacked when performing their duties.
"The police that were attacked on this occasion were responding to a call for help from the community. In a secure, democratic society, respect should be shown for people who serve the community in this way."
Mr McDermott said it should be remembered that RAMSI police leave their family and friends and their own communities to come and help Solomon Islanders rebuild their nation.
"It is particularly sad to think our officers were attacked by the very people they have come to help."
Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner, Johnson Siapu, stated that police are taking the matter very seriously.
"The RSIP does not want police officers to be put in danger while carrying out normal duties," he said.
Mr. Siapu made an appeal to the public to put a stop to such attacks on police officers.
He stated that there are better things to be engaged in than doing such things in the communities.
Mr. Siapu urged people in all respective communities in Honiara to respect the police force.