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Subject: AFP: Indonesian military chief denies troop increase
Date: Wed, 04 Nov 1998 16:53:00 +1200
From: East Timor International Support Center <etio@ozemail.com.au> Organization: ETISC

Indonesian military chief denies troop increase in East Timor

JAKARTA, Nov 4 (AFP) - The Indonesian Armed Forces chief on Wednesday denied allegations that more troops had been sent to troubled ex-Portuguese colony of East Timor after some 1,000 troop were withdrawn from there this year.

"There is a great fuss as if it (the withdrawal) was just for show, just a camouflage, (troops) withdrawn and then resent in greater number. This is absolutely untrue," Armed Forces chief General Wiranto told reporters at the presidential palace here.

He admitted though that rotations among the remaining soldiers had taken place and added that it was a routine military practice.

"There are rotations, changes in territorial units. That's routine and so do not think that a rotation means reinforcement of troops," he added.

Wiranto denied allegations, based on a purportedly leaked military documents, claiming that there were more than 20,000 troops in East Timor and challenged critics to come and count the number of troops for themselves.

"You can come and count with me ... that number is too huge ... We do not have enough batallions," he said, also questioning the validity of the documents used to base the allegations.

"The figures in the documents can be substituted," he said.

Military authorities said during the pullout of a first batch of 400 combat troops from East Timor on July 28 there were then some 12,200 troops there, 6,200 of them locally-raised.

The military pulled out another 700 soldiers on August 8.

Indonesia sent troops to the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it the following year.

But the United Nations continues to regard Lisbon as the official administrator of East Timor and its secretary general has sponsored peace talks between Portugal and Indonesia since 1983.

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