25 Apr 2006

Fijian security guards killed in Iraq hailed as heroes

11:54 am on 25 April 2006

The four Fijian security guards who died fighting off an ambush in Iraq last week and the seven who survived have been hailed as heroes by the United States military.

The Fiji Times reports that American soldiers in Kirkuk have recommended that the Fijians be awarded medals for gallantry.

The newspaper quotes a Fijian security guard based at Kirkuk, Lote Rokovau, as saying the 11 former Fijian soldiers were escorting a convoy of eight trucks loaded with oil machinery from Tirkit to Kirkuk when they were ambushed by insurgents.

Mr Rokovau says during the ambush the Fijian guards exchanged gunfire with the insurgents and killed some of them before capturing their support weapon.

Mr Rokovau says despite the gun battle, the Fijians managed to arrive at the Kirkuk Regional Air Force Base with the eight trucks of machinery, captured weapons and the bodies of their dead and injured.

Mr Rokovau says American soldiers have hailed the bravery of the Fijian guards and recommended that they be awarded medals.

The bodies of the four guards killed are expected to arrive in Fiji tonight.