5 Feb 2007

Fiji military disbands elite police unit

11:05 am on 5 February 2007

Fiji's military has disbanded the only unit in the country's police force which was armed and given elite training.

The Fiji Sun reports that the police spokeswoman, Inspector Lavenia Lovodua, has confirmed the Police Tactical Response Unit is no longer operational.

The military spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, has also confirmed the unit no longer exists but denied the move had anything to do with the discovery of sniper rifles in the possession of two of its officers last week.

The Police Tactical Response Unit was disarmed by the military a day ahead of the December takeover.

It was set up by the former police commissioner, Australian national Andrew Hughes, who fled Fiji a few days before the coup.

At the height of the stand-off late last year, Mr Hughes assigned members of the Police Tactical Response Unit to guard ministers of the Qarase government.