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UK soldiers suspected of beating NYC cop outside bar

An off-duty New York police officer was allegedly assaulted and robbed outside a Manhattan bar by six soldiers from a Scottish regiment who were in town on a rugby tour, police said Monday.

One of the soldiers, of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, is said to have snatched the 21-year-old officer's cell phone while the other five are suspected of assault. A friend of the officer was also alleged assaulted.

"A verbal confrontation escalated into a physical confrontation," a New York Police Department said. "Words were said and the situation became aggressive.

"Somebody tried to de-escalate things but then the fight started. It is not clear what was said between the men.

"The officer suffered bumps, bruises and lacerations, but nothing to the point of hospitalization."

The incident is said to have happened outside Mercury Bar, a sports bar in the Murray Hill area of Manhattan at 4 a.m. on Friday.

Of the group, Iosefo Yavala has been charged with robbery, and Iliakini Raderua, Thomas Shute, Felite Vunisarati, Mosese Kuruala and Joeli Raduva face assault charges.

The six had been due to play in a rugby game Sunday between their regiment and the Mystic River Rugby Club in Boston.

A U.K. Ministry of Defence spokesman said in a statement: "We are aware of an incident in New York involving some British Army soldiers.

"This is a matter for the NYPD and it would be inappropriate to comment while there is an ongoing investigation.

"All those who are found to fall short of the Army's high standards will face disciplinary action, up to and including discharge, if appropriate."

Many soldiers in Scottish regiments are recruited from British Commonwealth countries, including Fiji, Scotland's Daily Record newspaper reported.