Keke releases three missionary hostages

Three Anglican missionary brothers held by Solomon Islands rebel leader Harold Keke have been freed.

Their freedom comes on the eve of the arrival of an Australian-led intervention force in the Solomons.

Mr Keke, who is accused of being responsible for a reign of terror on Guadalcanal's Weathercoast, still holds six other brothers of the Melenesian Mission, an Anglican order.

The three arrived in Honiara following an eight-hour boat trip from the Weathercoast.

Mr Keke had held the three for seven weeks and released them to Japanese-born Solomons politician Yukio Sato and his son Yukio junior.

"We are happy to be released, we were treated well and we are waiting for other releases," Melanesian Mission Brother Alfred Tony Tabo of Santa Isabel said.

There were no police or other authorities to greet the three, who were taken into the care of head Brother Harry Gereniu.

Meanwhile, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza will return to the capital Honiara tomorrow to greet the arrival of the first wave of an Australian-led police and military intervention force.

Sir Allan left today aboard an Australian aid-provided patrol boat for an undisclosed location amid fears he could be kidnapped ahead of the arrival of the force.

Solomons Police Commissioner William Morell denied a threat had been received from militants.

"There's no specific security risk but the Prime Minister, like many of the other Cabinet Ministers, has been under threats of intimidation for the last 18 months and that's one of the reasons why the intervention is coming here, so the Government can function again," Commissioner Morell said.