Britons held over holiday stabbing of soldier

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Three British holidaymakers have been arrested in connection with the death of a 19-year-old soldier who was stabbed to death during a fight at a nightclub in Cyprus.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed a soldier from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, had died.

A spokesman added: “An investigation is being conducted by Cyprus police and it would be inappropriate to comment any further.

“The family has been informed and our thoughts are with them.”

Police spokesman Georgios Economou said a fight broke out at a nightclub in the resort of Ayia Napa between four off-duty soldiers and three British tourists in the early hours of yesterday.

One of the tourists is alleged to have drawn out a switchblade and the soldier suffered a fatal wound to his chest and was dead on arrival at hospital.

Sources said a knife that had been recovered was undergoing forensic tests.

A Foreign and Commonwealth spokesman said: “We are aware of the arrest of three British nationals in Ayia Napa and we are providing consular assistance.”

Connie Pierce, a British military spokeswoman, said the attack took place in an area of the Eastern Mediterranean island that British soldiers are told to avoid because of previous incidents.

After the rape and murder of Danish tour guide Louise Jensen by three off-duty British servicemen in 1994, the centre of Ayia Napa was declared off limits to soldiers by military top brass on the island, which is a clubbing resort with a reputation for sex, drugs and violence. British military police also patrol the area.

Miss Jensen, 23, was sexually assaulted and beaten to death with a spade after being abducted from a petrol station on September 13, 1994.

The three men, who were serving with the Royal Greenjackets, served less than half their sentences for abduction and manslaughter.

Around 3,000 British military personnel are stationed in Cyprus at bases retained after the former British colony gained independence in 1960.

In 2008 nine British soldiers went on trial accused of trashing a pub and beating up its owner
during a mass bar brawl on the island.

The servicemen, who were celebrating finishing tours of Iraq and Afghanistan and coming home to the UK, were all acquitted.

The dead soldier, who is yet to be formally named, is reported to have been stationed at the base in Dhekelia, about 12 miles (20km) west of Ayia Napa.