Number of armed robberies against Tonga's Chinese retail shops causes snap shutdown

Tonga’s Chinese retailers have been warned by their embassy that offenders armed with machetes are targeting them.

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Masked men armed with machetes hit at least three retailers since Saturday in Nuku’alofa. Source: 1 NEWS

There’s been at least three armed robberies since Saturday in the capital Nuku’alofa.

When another Chinese shop was targeted last night other stores quickly boarded up fearing they would be next.

The Chinese Embassy in Nuku’alofa confirmed to 1 NEWS that the police notified them about the spate of robberies targeting Chinese retailers yesterday afternoon.

Second Secretary Zhang Xuanbo says the Embassy then informed the Chinese shop owners about the situation and advised them to take “necessary protective measures”.

In some cases local Tongans stood guard for their Chinese neighbours to help protect them.

Witnesses report seeing two masked men threatening shopkeepers with weapons and making off with thousands of pa’anga – in one case a third man was seen driving the getaway car.

Shop owners, too scared to be identified, say they are worried as the offenders are still at large.

The Tongan police say they will be making a statement later today.