CANBERRA, Australia – The leader of the Solomon Islands said foreign interference in his government's decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing is to blame for anti-government protests, arson and looting that have ravaged the capital Honiara in recent days.
But critics also blamed unrest in the South Pacific archipelago nation 1,000 miles northeast of Australia on complaints of a lack of government services and accountability, corruption and foreign workers taking locals' jobs.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare angered many in 2019, particularly leaders of the Solomon Islands' most populous province, Malaita, when he cut the country's diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
A plane carrying Australian police and diplomats arrived Thursday in Honiara, where they will help local police efforts to restore order after a second day of violent anti-government protests, Defense Minister Peter Dutton said.
Bangladesh moves refugees to island
Bangladesh on Thursday began relocating hundreds of Rohingya refugees to an island in the Bay of Bengal, despite ongoing concerns from rights groups over the conditions on the vulnerable low-lying island and that no refugees should be sent forcibly.
The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic group, over 700,000 of whom fled persecution and violence in neighboring Myanmar in August 2017. Bangladesh has been sheltering 1.1 million of the refugees in crowded camps near its coast.
A senior Bangladeshi official overseeing the relocation, Mohammad Shamsud Douza, said that a navy ship would take 379 refugees from Chattogram city to the Bhashan Char Island, which lies off the country's southeastern coast. The government began sending Rohingya refugees to the island 11 months ago, and says it can now accommodate up to 100,000.
Czechs tighten rules to tackle COVID
The Czech government declared a 30-day state of emergency and imposed additional coronavirus restrictions Thursday in its effort to tackle a record surge of infections.
Among the other measures, Christmas markets are banned, bars, restaurants, night clubs, discotheques and casinos must close at 10 p.m. The number of people at culture and sports events will be limited to 1,000 who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19.
Also Thursday, Czech President Milos Zeman was readmitted to a hospital after he tested positive for COVID-19, just hours after he had been discharged following more than a month's treatment for an unspecified illness.
Vaccine wins EU approval for kids
The European Union's drug regulator on Thursday authorized Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine for use on children from 5 to 11 years old, clearing the way for shots to be administered to millions of elementary school pupils amid a new wave of infections sweeping across the continent.
It is the first time the European Medicines Agency has cleared a COVID-19 vaccine for use in young children.
Turkish police break up protest
Turkish police on Thursday fired tear gas to break up a protest in Istanbul by women demanding the country's return to a landmark international treaty, signed in the same city, that is meant to protect women from violence.
The women marched along Istanbul's main pedestrian street, Istiklal, to mark the Nov. 25 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Holding colorful banners, they chanted slogans and vowed not give up on the Council of Europe's Istanbul Convention.
Riot police, who had set up barricades at the end of the street to prevent them from proceeding further, fired tear gas when a group of protesters tried to breach the barriers.