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NEWSFLASH: Australia Moves To Evacuate Civilians

Australia has moved to evacuate civilians from the Solomon Islands after heavy fighting trapped over 700 Australian civilians in Honiara.

Australian Defence Minister John Moore announced the operation which would send a navy frigate to the island to bring back the Australian citizens, a significant number which are tourists.

Meanwhile, New Zealanders trapped in Honiara say they are desperate to leave the city. A New Zealand tourist says his group feels intimidated from the tension in the city even though the situation in Honiara currently appears to be calm. He says the tourists have been advised to stay in their hotel rooms.

Foreign Minister Phil Goff says the New Zealand citizens who wish to leave the islands should be able to depart on the Australian frigate. Mr. Goff says the New Zealand frigate sent to the islands, Te Mana, will not arrive in Honiara until Saturday.

Mr. Goff is expected to leave himself - from New Zealand to the Islands as part of a trans-Tasman ministerial party visiting the troubled region.

The situation surrounding the house arrest of the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Barthalomew Ulufa'alu is still murky. Rebels from the Malaitian Eagle Force are reported to be still holding Prime Minister Ulufa'alu although he is free to continue with "normal duties".

Elsewhere in the Solomons, Scoop has recieved unconfirmed reports the Bougainville Revolutionary Army is fighting the Malaitian Eagles on one of the remote outer islands.

The Bougainvillians are allied with the group opposing the Eagles the Guadalcanal militants known as the Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM).



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