FIJIAN SECURITY GUARDS DETAINED IN IRAQ RELEASED

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 31) - Four Fijian security guards were detained by Iraqi police last week after a misunderstanding on the Iraqi border with Kuwait.

The guards only identified, as Waqatavou, Vakadaranu, Narawa and Lalaqila were held for almost a week in an Iraqi police station in Basra.

Two other security guards in Iraq who did not want to be named yesterday said through an email that the four had not been kidnapped.

They refused to divulge details of the company, only saying the four men worked for a well-known aviation industry company in Iraq. "It was a misunderstanding between border police (Iraqi) and themselves while crossing the border from Kuwait to Iraq.

"They are frequent travelers through the borders between Iraq and Kuwait and the Fijians as usual, think that the procedures do not change.

"Unfortunately, on that day the Iraqi police detained them along with everything they had, holding them for several days," the email said.

The source said while they were detained, authorities from the company negotiated for the release of the Fijians and the vehicles they had been traveling in.

"They negotiated for the rest of the things that were with them. All this happened on the Iraqi side of the border between Iraq and Kuwait.

"We understand, Iraq is undergoing a transition period in which changes are taking place in government policies as well as other departmental rules, regulations and procedures." The source said the matter ended up in the Basra court.

"This was where the decision was made to release the Fijians and their vehicles. We have, however, learnt a lesson from the situation and that is we need to go or flow with the tide.

"Although we may not realize changes taking place in a particular area we need to update ourselves with what is happening everyday to avoid a reoccurrence of this incident."

The guard said the four Fijians who had been detained were all well and in good spirit. "They are carrying out their duties as usual. They are recovering well and work is back to normal."

He said the four guards were fortunate to have been on battlefields before as it had helped them recover quickly.

"There is no need for counseling for these guys since they are all experienced and have been here for more than two years now.

"They know the area very well and the situation they have just been through."

August 1, 2006

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com .

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