Tourists held after soldier dies in Cyprus

British passport-holders arrested over stabbing death at nightclub in popular resort town

Three British tourists are being questioned in Cyprus after an off-duty soldier was stabbed to death at a nightclub in the popular resort of Ayia Napa.

The 19-year-old, serving with 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was killed after he and three other soldiers allegedly became involved in an argument with the tourists.

A spokesman for the local police said the fight happened at a club called Black n White in the town’s central square. It is billed as one of Europe’s biggest nightclubs, with regular guest spots from superstar DJs. Radio 1Xtra has also broadcast from there.

According to reports, a knife was produced during the argument at about 3.30am and the soldier was stabbed once in the chest. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Famagusta General Hospital in nearby Paralimni.

Neither the victim nor the alleged perpetrators has been named today, although the dead man’s next of kin had been informed.

A local police spokesman confirmed that all three “boys” arrested had British passports but that two were of Pakistani origin. “There were between five and six people together and one was killed with a knife,” he said. “Three boys from England have been arrested. Two are from Pakistan but they all have British passports. They are being held in custody. It is a very early state in the investigation, however.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said it was offering advice to the accused but was unlikely to release further details due to the “sensitive nature” of the case. He said at least one of the three was under 18.

Connie Pierce, a spokeswoman for Britain’s two military bases in Cyprus, said the incident happened in a part of Ayia Napa that is off limits to British soldiers because of past trouble.

In 1996 three British soldiers were convicted of the 1994 rape and murder of a Danish tour guide, Louise Jensen, 23. They were released on appeal in 2006. In 2008 the mayor of Ayia Napa threatened to ban soldiers from the entire town after a rampage by nine British soldiers caused extensive damage.

The military ban was partially lifted in 2009 to allow daytime visits, but soldiers are still banned from the main square in Ayia Napa. Military police also regularly patrol the tourist spot.

About 3,500 British soldiers are based in Cyprus on two permanent bases, Dhekelia and Akrotiri, retained after the island gained independence in 1960.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed the soldier’s death today. He said: “The family has been informed and our thoughts are with them. The incident is a matter for the civilian police.”

A party town with a violent history

Each year thousands of young Britons head to Ayia Napa, on the southern coast of Cyprus, attracted by its super-clubs and a reputation for drink-fuelled excess. It is never far from the headlines – often for the behaviour of soldiers stationed at nearby Dhekelia.

In 2008 nine soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers were acquitted of going on a rampage. They had allegedly smashed chairs, bottles and glasses in a bar brawl that left two Britons and two locals injured.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea