20 Apr 2006

Fiji PM pays tribute to security guards killed in Iraq

8:54 pm on 20 April 2006

Fiji's prime minister has paid tribute to the four Fijian security guards killed in an ambush in Iraq.

Radio Fiji quotes Laisenia Qarase as saying the four gave their lives trying to bring peace and stability to a country torn by violence.

He says they knew the dangers and accepted the risks, and Fiji grieves with their families.

Malakai Sekibureta, Iosefo Cagi, Manasa Navakaro and Kelemedi Dreuvakabalawa were killed when the supply convoy they were escorting to the US airbase at Kirkuk, 240km north of Baghdad, was ambushed by insurgents.

The men had been employed by an American company, Controlled Risks, whose Fiji agent and outgoing government MP, Col Jonetani Kaukeimoce, says they had completed their contracts last week and should have returned home.

But Col Kaukeimoce says the four joined a civilian company from Kuwait for the mission on which they were killed.

Another Fijian soldier injured in the same ambush is being treated at a US military hospital in Kirkuk.

The bodies of the four dead will be flown home to Fiji for burial.