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FIJI: 5 soldiers admitted; journalists shot at;

5 soldiers admitted; journalists shot at; battle continuing

Issue No: 166; 2 November 2000

Reports by 3pm on the gun battle at the army headquarters hold that 5 soldiers, including one female, have been shot and are now admitted at the CWM hospital with two in serious condition. The hospital has closed its outpatients department.

The entrance to the barracks is closed. No one is allowed in.

The Home Affairs ministry has taken out a statement on "the skirmishes" at the camp and has advised the public to stay calm and indoors. It has also advised schools to release students to their parents going to pick them up.

The Fiji Times reported that its vehicle was shot at outside the barracks by apparently renegade soldiers outside the camp. Their reporter told the Radio Fiji that he was very worried about the security in the residential areas around the army camp.

Radio Fiji also reported that the renegades have taken over the 3rd infantry regiment armoury and are well armed.

It is confirmed that the army Commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama escaped from the barracks with about 12 body guards through the bushes at the back of the barracks. Reports of heavy explosions in the vicinity of the Commander's office complex were made.

It is understood that one vehicle load of armed renegades also left the barracks. It is unknown where were they headed, but it's believed that they were on their way towards Walu Bay. The naval base is based at Walu Bay. It is believed that the CRW soldiers have taken control over a large part of the barrack. About 100 fully armed soldiers from the Army Training Group have now surrounded one side of the barracks.

END 2 November



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