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Subject: 400 E.Timor Students Take Refuge After Assaults by "Ninjas"
Date: Sun, 11 Oct 1998 13:25:58 +0100 (BST)

400 East Timor students take refuge after assaults by "ninjas"

JAKARTA, Oct 10 (AFP) - Some 400 East Timorese students studying in neighboring Indonesian West Timor have returned home after being terrorized by men dressed in black "ninja" suits, the Kompas daily reported Saturday.

It said the students packed up and fled back to East Timor in seven buses Friday from the Widya Mandira Catholic University in the provincial capital of Kupang.

"Our families asked us to return to East Timor," Kompas quoted East Timor Students Association (Imaptim) chairman Joao Morere as saying.

Morere said four East Timorese students had been attacked by a group of men in ninja suits, and others had received death threats from unidentified men who came to their dormitories.

He said one of his colleagues, Tino Atinus, who was attacked Thursday in front of the Laguna Hotel, was still in intensive care in Kupang general hospital. He was stabbed in the stomach and chest.

Earlier on Wednesday a second student was beaten up in front of the Widya Mandira campus.

"The series of assaults and terror have created great fear among us," Morere said.

"Ninja" (or Nanggala) was the name given in East Timor to gangs of thugs trained by the special forces to terrorize opponents of Indonesian rule. The army says they are resistance members trying to blacken the name of the armed forces.

Indonesia invaded East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, in 1975 and annexed the territory a year later after heavy fighting in a move never recognized by the United Nations and most countries.

UN-sponsored talks between Jakarta and Lisbon, which severed ties with Indonesia shortly after the invasion, have dragged on since 1983.

Since the fall of former president Suharto May 21, the new government of President B.J. Habibie has offered to grant special autonomy to the troubled territory in return for international recognition of Indonesian sovereignty.

Indonesia and Portugal are currently discussing Jakarta's proposal.

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