23 Apr 2005

Fiji death toll in Iraq climbs to seven

7:21 am on 23 April 2005

The number of Fijians killed in the Iraq insurgency has now risen to seven.

The latest two, former police officer Aisea Atalifo and former soldier Timoci Lalaqila, died early yesterday when the Russian-made MI-8 helicopter they were travelling in was shot down by missile fire north of Baghdad.

Also killed were the six US contractors the Fijians had been guarding, and three Bulgarian crew.

The Fijians were working as security guards for the American company, Skylink.

A militant group calling itself the Islamic Army of Iraq has claimed responsibility for the attack and has posted pictures on the Internet of the helicopter wreckage and the bodies of the victims.

The other five Fijians killed in Iraq earlier were employees of the British company, Global Risk Strategies, which has an office in Suva.