16 Feb 2004

Fiji's capital faces weekend of violence

12:11 pm on 16 February 2004

Gunfire, armed robberies and a bomb hoax have hit the citizens of Fiji at the weekend.

Four robbers firing an M-16 assault rifle and carrying two pistols struck at a surburban supermarket in Suva on Saturday night and made off with nearly 100-thousand US dollars.

Earlier in the day, central Lautoka was thrown into panic when a bomb hoax forced the evacuation of the city's largest hypermarket just as thousands of shoppers and tourists from a visiting cruise ship were inside.

Several streets were blocked off and the army's bomb disposal squad was called to check the premises.

In Rakiraki, a businessman and members of his family were tied up and robbed of their cash and jewellery by armed men.

Only two days earlier, armed men stabbed a senior regional public servant employed at the Forum Secretariat and stole his vehicle to carry out a 40 thousand US dollar attack at a downtown gift shop in Suva.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum has expressed concern that military weapons still missing after the May 2000 coup may have been used in some of these attacks.