FIJI: Newspapers condemn senseless killings
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SUVA: Fiji newspapers today branded the shooting of two members of the security forces in an ambush early yesterday as senseless murders in a political cause that had gone wrong.
A soldier and a police officer were killed by rebels in a a gully on an isolated road near Adi Cakobau School leading to Navuso village in Sawani.
Some reports said the rebels were on their way to join landowners in the rugged highlands who are holding the Monasavu dam power generator and demanding $52 million in compensation.
Military spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini described the killings of police corporal Raj Kumar, 49, and soldier Joela Weleilakeba, 36, as "cold-blooded murder".
Three other soldiers were admitted to Suva's Colonial War Memorial Hospital with serious wounds.
The Fiji Sun described the shootings as "the last straw".
"Yesterday's double murders at Naqiolevu, in Navuso, effectively tells a story about a cause that is supported by ruthless and bloodthirsty men," the paper said.
"Men who want this country run their way.
"It is clear there are elements intent on getting their message through. They are ruthless and inconsiderate, to the point that they conveniently disregard the fact that this country is headed down a path that leads to economic and political ruin.
"These are elements who have no place in society. Elements who must be hunted down."
The Daily Post said that the brutal murders had taken the political crisis "a step further away from a coup, that had lost its plot, even before it started".
"The plotters knew that the coup was doomed to fail.
"Yet, they, the perpetrators, particularly those in detention at the Nukulau prison, continue to sing the famous chorus "Fiji for the Fijians", as a means of soliciting support. They got support all wrong."
The Fiji Times said: "The murder[s] ... early yesterday [do] nothing for the rebel cause.
"Instead, [they] threaten only to tear apart an already fragmented society."
According to the Daily Post, Corp Kumar did not die from his initial wounds.
"The military said last night he was shot again at point-blank range after the rebel gunmen realised he was still alive," the paper said.
Corp Kumar was "finished off" by the gunmen after the first bullet hit him between the eyes.
The paper said the accuracy of the shooting at 2.30am "suggest[ed] trained snipers were involved".
Lt Col Tarakinikini warned the rebels to give up or risk being hunted down by the military.
He said he believed the gunmen were escaped criminals on the run.
Full military deployment in the area surronding Monosavu would be completed within 48 hours.