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Villagers In Fear Of Military

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SUVA: Fiji villagers in the western area of Wainibuka live in fear after soldiers stormed their houses in search of prison escapee Alifereti Nimacere, reports the Fiji Times.

And an army officer confirmed that men were beaten during interrogation.

The soldiers brutally assaulted four village men who claimed they were innocent of any crime.

Two of the men walk with the aid of crutches while the others suffered deep bruises to tgheir ribs, arms and legs.

The men said they were punched, kicked and beaten with iron rods.

The headman of Naibita Village, in Wainibuka, Silivinosi Daubitu, yesterday said the villagewrs no longer felt safe in their own homes.

The soldiers, camped at Rokovuaka in neighbouring Ra Province, constantly patrol the main road as part of their operations.

According to the Fiji Times, Daubitu said gthe military raided a number of homes randomly last wek and forced some men to accompany them to a vacant area.

There they assaulted the suspects.

The unit's commanding officer, Lieutenant Jo Misivoni, confirmed his soldiers had assaulted the men to "extract information".

* Nimacere, Fiji's most notorious criminal, has been the target of a major manhunt since he reportedly joined rebels supporting coup leader George Speight. He is also thought to have military issue arms seized by the rebels.

The Fiji Times also reported that the military ordered a staff reporter and a photographer gathering news about the alleged assaults to leave the village.

The unnamed reporter said: "The air of fear in the village was obvious when the [soldiers] arrived. Everyone fled to their homes and left us."


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