FIJI ARMY DENIES REPORT ON EAST TIMOR ARMS CRISIS

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By Joycelyn Narayan Wansolwara Online (USP)

SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 4, 2001 -- Wansolwara Online/Pasifik Nius)---The Fiji Military has denied reports of Fiji soldiers being hit by an arms shortage and not being inoculated for malaria before leaving for East Timor.

Reacting to a newspaper front-page story yesterday, military spokesperson Captain Ned Taito told Wansolwara Online that soldiers had been inoculated with New Zealand help, but admitted there had been difficulties buying small arms equipment and medical supplies from "traditional sources."

The Fiji Sun report had quoted an unnamed "military spokesman" claiming "Fiji soldiers serving in East Timor lack basic soldiering equipment, such as ammunition, and are in danger of contracting malaria as they were not vaccinated against the disease in Suva."

But Captain Taito said: "Due to embargoes implemented after May 2000, difficulty has been faced in purchasing small arms ammunition as well as medical supplies from traditional sources.

"With the assistance of the New Zealand Army, inoculations have been completed for troops currently serving with UNTAET, and all personnel were issued with anti-malarial prophylactics prior to being deployed to the field sites," he said.

Captain Taito said that the unnamed spokesman extensively quoted in the news report was not he and therefore was not an official military source.

"All official RFMF news releases are conducted through the media cell. This includes articles compiled by RFMF contingents deployed overseas," said Captain Taito.

Title -- 3393 MILITARY: Fiji's army denies report on East Timor 'arms crisis' Date -- 4 September 2001 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Wansolwara Online, 4/9/1 Copyright -- USP Journalism Status – Unabridged

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/  USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/  USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): http://www.scoop.co.nz/international.htm  Have your say: http://www.TheGuestBook.com/vgbook/109497.gbook 

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