Goff deplores killing of policeman in Solomons

  • Phil Goff
Foreign Affairs and Trade

Foreign Minister Phil Goff says he deplores the killing of an Australian police officer in the Solomon Islands this morning, and has expressed his condolences to the Australian government and the family of the young man.

"The killing of the police officer is a tragedy for his family and friends, particularly so close to Christmas," Mr Goff said.

"I have contacted my colleague Alexander Downer and asked for our deepest sympathy to be passed on to the officer's family. The Prime Minister has also formally passed on New Zealand's condolences to John Howard.

"The officer was killed by automatic gun fire while on a routine security patrol in the early hours of this morning. The vehicle he was travelling in as a passenger came under fire from behind. The driver was unharmed.

"This tragedy is a reminder that security operations such as the Regional Security Mission in the Solomon Islands carry with them real risks.

"While RAMSI has been enormously successful and popular with the people of the Solomon Islands, it has undoubtedly earned the enmity of the militias, the criminals and corrupt officials and politicians whose activities have been disrupted by the mission.

"An earlier incident involving gun fire on a RAMSI vehicle was a warning that while the Solomon Islands is now largely peaceful, the threat of violence should not be ruled out.

"An investigation into the shooting has begun, and everything possible will be done to find and bring to justice those responsible.

"The safety and security of RAMSI personnel, which involves police, military and civilians from 11 Pacific nations, will meanwhile be subject to review.

"New Zealand currently has 35 police officers, a civilian adviser and a 37-strong infantry platoon in the Solomon Islands as part of RAMSI," Mr Goff said.