22 Dec 2004

Australia condemns killing of police officer in Solomon Islands

4:21 pm on 22 December 2004

The Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands is condemning the killing of an Australian officer who was shot dead while on patrol in Honiara early today.

26-year-old Adam Dunning died when the the vehicle he was travelling in came under fire in a Honiara suburb.

The Regional Assistance Mission has described the killing as a murder that has deeply affected and saddened all members of Ramsi and the Australian Federal Police.

The death is the first fatality suffered by the multi-national mission since it was deployed 17 months ago.

A spokesman for the Solomon Islands government, Johnson Honimae, has expressed the country's condolences.

"The government and the people of Solomon Islands send our deepest condolences to the parents, family and relatives of the slain officer who has sacrificed his life in the name of peace for this country."

A 20-year old Solomon Islander has been arrested in connection with the shooting.

The Australian justice minister, Chris Ellison and the federal police commissioner, Mick Keelty, will travel to Honiara.

The New Zealand foreign minister, Phil Goff, says he deplores the killing and has also expressed his condolences.

Mr Goff says while he thinks the mission has adequate security cover, a review will be undertaken.

There is clearly the need in the light of this incident to review security and safety of all the Ramsi personnel - police, military and civilians that are based in the Solomons. That will be left to the people who have first hand experience on the island and they will make any recommendations to their governments in due course.