Fiji alarmed over Taliban training claim

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 09:53 01/03/2013

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Fiji police have launched an urgent investigation into a report that two or three Fiji citizens are training with the Taliban in Pakistan.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that Pakistan remained a major destination for radicalised Muslims bent on a life of jihad, despite hundreds of US drone strikes, the death of Osama bin Laden and the fracturing of Al-Qaeda.

The report said foreign fighter numbers were increasing with potentially 2000-3500 foreign fighters in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border areas from about 30 different countries.

"A few months ago, we even welcomed some (two or three) people from Fiji for the first time," the Taliban member told AFP.

"There are more nationalities because they face the same problems.

"They tell us that they feel left aside by capitalism and discriminated by unfair laws, like the Swiss one on minarets or the French one on hijabs."

The military head of Fiji's police, Ioane Naivalurua, told Fiji state radio the police were seeking more information on the report.

Naivalurua said police were ''using their network abroad to help the investigation''.

Fiji is home to 53,000 Muslims, mainly of Indian origin. Most Fiji Muslims are of the orthodox Sunni branch with a small number of Ahmadiyya Muslims.

The majority of New Zealand's 36,000 Muslims are from Fiji.

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