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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
MoD names soldier killed in Iraq
Gunner Samuela Vanua
Gunner Vanua was described as "fantastic company"
A soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq earlier this week has been named by the Ministry of Defence.

Gunner Samuela Vanua died from injuries suffered in Monday's explosion near the town of Ad Dayr, north of Basra.

The 27-year-old Fijian soldier, of the 12 Regiment Royal Artillery, was described by commanding officers as "tough, hard-working and resourceful".

Fellow gunner Stephen Wright, 20, who served in the same regiment, was also killed in the ambush.

Defence Secretary Des Browne sent his "sincere condolences" to the family and friends of Gunner Vanua.

"My thoughts are with them during this difficult time," he said.

"Gunner Vanua's professionalism was a credit to his native country of Fiji and his contribution towards the reconstruction of Iraq will not be forgotten."

'Cheeky grin'

Gunner Vanua's commanding officer, Lt Col Jon Campbell, said he got to know the soldier in July when they had been on patrol together.

"I was impressed by his excellent attitude, infectious cheerfulness, conduct and confidence.

Iraq map

"I have many Fijian soldiers in my regiment. I could see he was there with the best of them."

Col Campbell said the gunner had been popular throughout the regiment and was "fantastic company at work and socially".

"His cheeky grin characterised a mischievous good humour that endeared him to all."

Describing him as a young man "growing in confidence and maturity", he said Gunner Vanua had "obvious potential for a hugely successful career" and was "a high-quality, motivated soldier of whom the Army, his regiment and his battery is rightly very proud".

Col Campbell said Gunner Vanua was a "credit to Fiji" who would be "sorely missed by all".

"Our thoughts and prayers at this dreadfully sad time go especially to his family and friends in Fiji, who will feel his loss most keenly."

The deaths of Gunner Wright and Gunner Vanua bring the total number of UK soldiers killed in operations in Iraq since the 2003 conflict to 117.

The Ministry of Defence said a roadside bomb struck the men's Land Rover patrol vehicle as it supported a Danish reconstruction team.

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