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Subject: Indonesian soldiers open fire on each other in ETimor
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 21:43:14 GMT

Solid-Net, the news network of Solidamor - Solidarity for a Peaceful Solution in East Timor Translated by TAPOL

Exchange of fire between members of ABRI in Los Palos

9 November 1998

Reports just received from East Timor reveal that there was an exchange of fire between soldiers in Battalion 745 which is based in Lospalos. The clash broke out when First Sergeant Totok severely beat a private named Suwandi during the inauguration ceremony of new members of the battalion on 8 November. The private died as a result of the assault.

Suwandi's friends were extremely angry with what had happened and started to protest against his treatment. They gained control of the ammunitions store-room and there was an exchange of fire.

As the clash escalated, a helicopter with the deputy chief of the Wira Dharma regional command and the Udayana chief of staff on board was dispatched from Dili in an attempt to separate the fighting groups but was unable to land because of heavy gunfire from the friends of Suwandi. The officers were forced to return to Dili and were only able to land in Lospalos on the following day.

Sources in Lospalos say that Suwandi's friends are still in control of the ammunitions dump. They are demanding that the Battalion commander be replaced and that the army chief of staff (General Subagyo) or the Udayana military commander, Major-General Adam Damiri, should attend the dead soldier's funeral.

Note from TAPOL:

It is clear from the names in this report that the soldiers involved in the clash are both low-ranking Indonesian soldiers in a battalion that is usually referred to as a battalion composed of East Timorese.

However, the leaked military documents which we are in the process of studying reveal that the idea that Battalions 744 and 745 are East Timorese battalions is very far from the truth. Official army tables show that the two battalions are more than two thirds composed of Indonesians as the following figures show:

Battalion 744: 609 men of whom 181 are East Timorese East Timorese officers 0 Indonesian officers 20 East Timorese NCOs 39 Indonesian NCOs 70

Battalion 745 663 men of whom 171 are East Timorese East Timorese officers 0 Indonesian officers 27 East Timorese NCOs 32 Indonesian NCOs 94

Our full analysis of the documents is now underway and we hope to make it available within a week.

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK Phone: 0181 771-2904 Fax: 0181 653-0322 email: Campaigning to expose human rights violations in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh

Join us to celebrate TAPOL's 25th anniversary on 20 October 1998. Contact us for ticket details.

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