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Eight dead after riots in Tonga

Published 18/11/2006

Soldiers and police from New Zealand arrived in the Tongan capital today to

help restore order after riots that left at least eight people dead.

A contingent of 60 troops and 10 police flew in from New Zealand to secure the

nation's only international airport after foreign airlines refused to use it

because of its lack of security, said Tongan defence services spokesman.

Another 50 troops and 35 police from Australia, including forensic experts to

identify the bodies of those who died in building fires during the riots, will

arrive later.

30 Chinese-owned stores and businesses were torched during Thursday's riot.

Angry youths overturned cars, attacked government officials and looted

shops and offices.

Officials said about 80% of the capital had been destroyed.

Ethnic Chinese traders have a large chunk of the economy in Tonga's capital, and are sometimes resented by locals who perceive them as outsiders.

The violence was triggered by anger that parliament might finish its session

for the year without settling plans to introduce reforms that would give

democratically-elected MPs a majority in parliament over royally-appointed


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