UK soldiers shot dead 'from same Fijian town'

image captionBoth men, originally from Fiji, were keen rugby fans

Two soldiers shot dead in separate incidents in Afghanistan were Fijian-born men from the same town, the Ministry of Defence has said.

Cpl Taniela Tolevu Rogoiruwai, 32, and Kingsman Ponipate Tagitaginimoce, 29, were both of 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.

They pair, originally from Nausori, in Fiji, died in the Nad Ali district of Helmand province on Tuesday.

Their deaths bring the number of UK personnel killed in Afghanistan to 298.

Earlier, the MoD named a Royal Marine who died in Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham on Monday.

Twenty-year-old Steven James Birdsall had been injured in a gunfight in the Sangin district of Helmand on Sunday. He was flown home for treatment, but died from his injuries.

'Wonderful father'

In a statement issued through the MoD, the family of Cpl Rogoiruwai said he would "always be remembered in our hearts".

"Dan was such a loving husband who dedicated his life to his work and especially his family," they said.

"He will be sorely missed by his friends, workmates and especially by his wife and three-year-old son, Matthew.

Known as "Rocco", Cpl Rogoiruwai joined the Army in 2000 and had also served in Northern Ireland and Iraq.

He was a talented sportsman and had represented the Army at rugby and his battalion in the bobsleigh.

His commanding officer, Lt Col Frazer Lawrence, said: "He led from the front, set the best of examples for others to follow and he put everyone before himself.

"He loved the Army, his regiment and his fellow soldiers, but most of all he loved his wife and his young son.

"Rocco was one of life's leaders - a natural commander - who gave confidence to those around him. He was decent, honest and loyal - a real character."


Kingsman Tagitaginimoce, known as "Tagi", joined the Army in 2005 and had previously served in Iraq.

Like Cpl Rogoiruwai, he was also a talented rugby player and devoted follower of the sport.

His wife said in a statement: "A loving husband and a wonderful father who will be deeply missed. Love always, Laisani."

Lt Col Lawrence said he had died while trying to help one of his comrades.

"He epitomised the qualities of a Fijian Kingsman - strong yet gentle, compassionate, principled and honourable, and with a real sense of right and wrong," the commanding officer said.

"His sheer presence calmed those around him and made light any dark period - his good cheer was infectious.

"No one epitomised the spirit of the battalion more than Tagi - he was a lion of a man, he was a 'Lion of England'."

Defence Secretary Liam Fox also paid tribute to the two men, saying they "had both excelled on operations in the past and in the tough conditions of Afghanistan".

"Corporal Rogoiruwai's colleagues in the 1st Battalion talk of a tough, yet compassionate soldier who led from the front, and Kingsman Tagitaginimoce was clearly a selfless and diligent soldier, and a loyal friend.

"My thoughts remain with their families, friends and those with whom they served."

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