Rioters damaged shops and burned a ballot box as vote counting in the Solomon Islands' general elections was marred by escalating violence on Saturday in three provinces.

Local police worked with foreign peacekeepers to restore order following Wednesday's vote.

The Solomon Islands Royal Police sent reinforcements to Temotu, Central and Malaita provinces where crowds angry at election results damaged shops and buildings. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

In Auk Malaita province, angry crowds went on a rampage, burning a ballot box and damaging the headquarters of the provincial government.

In Tulagi in Central province, 16 people were arrested on charges of breaking into a shop owned by a successful candidate. And in Lata in Temotu Province, angry supporters of a losing high profile candidate burned and looted a shop and damaging office buildings, Police Commissioner Peter Marshall said on Saturday.

Police said the situation in Lata was under control but arrests were likely.

Election results have often sparked unrest among supporters of rival politicians, resulting in injuries and property damage in the South Pacific nation of about 600,000 people scattered across 1,000 islands.

An Australian-led international security force has attempted to maintain peace in the Solomon Islands since 2003, after hundreds were killed in ethnic violence that drove at least 20,000 people from their homes.

A record 509 candidates are seeking election to the nation's 50-seat parliament. Vote counting in most constituencies is expected to be completed on Sunday, although voting in the remote outer regions of Ontong Java and Sikiana is to take place on Monday because of transportation difficulties.

Foreign election observers were pleased overall with the polling, and the Electoral Commission has said it has found no evidence of fraud.

In the latest results, former Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the People's Congress Party Fred Fono lost his seat. Also ousted was former Foreign Affairs Minister William Haomae.

Mr. Haomae was unseated by the former governor of the Solomon Islands Central Bank, Rick Hou, who recently resigned from the World Bank to pursue a political career.

Former prime ministers Manasseh Sogavare and Snyder Rini retained their seats. Derek Sikua, who became prime minister in 2007, is also seeking re-election.

In Malaita, a former key leader of the militia group the Malaita Eagle Force, Jimmy Lusibaea, won a seat with almost four times as many votes as his nearest rival.

Previously known as Jimmy Rasta, he was recently released from jail after serving five years for robbery and is now a successful businessman.

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