Get troops out, say sisters of Fijian soldier killed by Taliban

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The Independent Online

The sisters of a Fijian soldier killed by the Taliban have called for British troops to be pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan, as anti-war campaigners prepare for mass protests at Labour's conference.

Ranger Anare Draiva, 27, was shot dead nine days ago repelling an attack by the Taliban in Helmand, southern Afghanistan, becoming one of three Fijian-born British soldiers to have died in action this year.

Three of his sisters have now signed an anti-war petition organised by Military Families Against the War, set up last year by Rose Gentle and Reg Keys, which urges the Prime Minister to withdraw British troops from both countries.

The campaigners are now preparing to stage a "peace camp" and a mass protest at Labour's annual conference in central Manchester, which starts in a fortnight, where they will launch a new anti-war party called Spectre to contest parliamentary seats held by pro-war ministers.

The Draiva family warned that other Fijians, who are among some 2,000 highly regarded Fijian volunteers now in the British army, could also be killed in the "war on terror". Several cousins are also joining up.

Ranger Draiva's sister, Akosita, said her brother - described by his commanding officer as a "superb, strong and courageous soldier" - had called home a few hours before he was killed "sounding depressed".

She added: "He told us how unstable Afghanistan was and how he wished everything could just be over."

The anti-war group said Mr Blair's announcement last week that he would resign as party leader within a year did not weaken their demands for the UK to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan.