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Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2006, 04:36 GMT
Six found dead after Tonga riots
Overturned car in Nuku'alofa, Tonga
The riots caused considerable damage in Nuku'alofa
Six bodies have been found amidst debris left by rioting in Nuku'alofa, capital of the Pacific nation of Tonga.

Hundreds of youths destroyed buildings and looted shops on Thursday, in protests sparked by government delays in implementing democratic reforms.

The government has now said new elections will be held in 2008 to elect a more democratic parliament.

Tonga is poised to request up to 200 troops from Australia and New Zealand to help protect key buildings.

"We are now working on the details of an agreement to allow personnel from New Zealand and Australia to secure the airport" and other strategic sites, said Lopeti Senituli, a spokesman for Prime Minister Fred Sevele.

Air New Zealand cancelled flights to Tonga for a second day on Friday.

Police said that more bodies might be found, as debris was cleared from damaged buildings.

The six dead were believed to have been rioters.

Firefighters in building in Nuku'alofa, Tonga
Arson was widespread through the capital

"We are waiting for DNA tests to confirm as the bodies are beyond recognition," said assistant police commissioner Unca Faaoa.

Up to 80% of buildings in Nuku'alofa were estimated to have been destroyed, including the government and prime minister's offices, the power company, Nuku'alofa's only bank and a number of Chinese-owned shops.

Reform plans

The South Pacific nation's king appoints 10 of the 14 cabinet members to their posts for life, with the other four reserved for "nobility".

Hereditary noblemen hold the majority of seats in the country's parliament.

After the death of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV in September, a government committee recommended that that all lawmakers be elected by the public.

King Tupou IV reigned for 41 years and was opposed to reforms.

His son and heir, Siaosi Tupou V, is thought to be more in favour of change.


SEE ALSO
In pictures: Tonga riots aftermath
17 Nov 06 |  In Pictures
Tongan riots after reforms delay
16 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Tonga 'should have elected MPs'
06 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Tonga royal funeral
19 Sep 06 |  In Pictures
Obituary: Taufa'ahau Tupou IV
11 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Tongan King Tupou IV dies at 88
11 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Tongan royals killed in car crash
07 Jul 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Tonga gets first elected leader
13 Feb 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Tonga
13 Feb 06 |  Country profiles

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