NEW YORK - Six British soldiers visiting New York have been charged with assault in a fight with an off-duty police officer outside a Manhattan bar, authorities said Tuesday.
The charges stem from an argument that began shortly after 4 a.m. Friday with the soldiers and the officer trading insults while mingling with women in front of the nightspot, police said.
A criminal complaint alleges the men - Ratu-losefo Yavala, Mosese Kurulala, Joeli Raduva, Filipe Vunisarati, Iliakini Raderua and Thomas Shute - punched the officer until he fell to the ground. When the officer tried to call emergency services, one of the men punched him again and took his cellphone, the complaint says.
The BBC reported the six are Fijian nationals who were in the United States on a rugby tour. Fiji was once part of the British Commonwealth, and Fijians have served in the British army for generations.
The unidentified New York Police Department officer, who didn't have a gun, cut one of the soldiers on the arm while trying to defend himself with a small pocket knife, police said. He suffered a broken nose and a swollen jaw.
The names of defense attorneys were not immediately available.
The British Defense Ministry identified the six men as members of the Scots Guard, but declined further comment. The guard is one of five army regiments that guard royal residences.
The BBC reported the six are Fijian nationals who were in the United States on a rugby tour. The British Army continues to accept recruits from Fiji even though the island nation's membership in the Commonwealth was suspended in 2009. Fijian leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup, and since then, the former British colony has been isolated internationally for its failure to restore democracy.