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FIJI: Army fugitive in daring F$80,000 raid

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ARMY FUGITIVE IN DARING F$80,000 RAID

SUVA: A military fugitive and three other armed men today raided a supermarket in an elite suburb of the capital Suva and stole F$80,000 (US$40,000) on the first business day since the post-coup curfew had been lifted at the weekend.

The Fiji Military Forces set up snap roadblocks around the city after the daring robbery at Morris Hedstrom Superfresh store in Tamavua.

But radio reports said the curfew would not be reimposed.

Pacnews reported that military manned roadblocks were in put in place minutes after the robbery.

The soldier on the run for his involvement in the May 19 hostage-taking and insurrection was identified as Tevita Poese, according to Pacnews.

He was one of four men who threatened a cashier and robbed her of the money.

Army spokesman Lieutenant Ilaisa Tagitupou told Pacnews that Poese, a member of the army engineer unit, had been a fugitive from the military since May.

"He's wanted for his alleged involvement in the murder of a soldier and a policeman at an early morning ambush in an isolated area outside Suva," Lt Tagitupou said.

Radio reports said at least one military issue M16 and a K2 rifle were used in the raid.

Lt Tagitupou said weapons used in the robbery could be among 19 missing weapons from the military armoury.

"We have 19 weapons still missing. One was from the November 2 attempted mutiny at the army headquarters and 18 from the May 19 uprising," he told Pacnews.

"We appeal to members of the public to come forward with any information that may lead to the recovery of the weapons."

Pacnews also reported that Fiji's interim Home Affairs Minister, Ratu Talemo Ratakele, had signed an order to provide a one-month amnesty to those who were still holding firearms illegally.

The amnesty is expected to be gazetted this week.

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