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Subject: CNN/Reuters - East Timorese demand referendum, prisoners riot
Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 11:28:20 +0100
From: "Paula Carvalho Pinto" <>

East Timorese demand referendum, prisoners riot

October 12, 1998 Web posted at: 12:54 PM EDT (1654 GMT)

JAKARTA, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Prisoners rioted at a jail in East Timor's capital Dili on Monday as thousands of people took to the streets in the territory demanding a referendum on independence from Indonesian rule, locals said.

Some residents said there were reports prisoners had been shot during the riot, but a prison official said there had been no casualties.

"There has been trouble in the prison, but there are no casualties. I can't give you other details," the official at Becora prison told Reuters by telephone.

It was unclear what sparked the riot. Police and the military could not be reached for comment.

Residents said prisoners clashed with Indonesian troops during the riot inside the jail as protesters moved around Dili in buses, trucks and motorcycles to protest against Jakarta's rule in the territory of 800,000 people.

"We've heard reports of clashes in the prison which involved inmates and the military. We've also heard some prisoners were hit by bullets," said one resident.

Protesters also took to the streets of the eastern town of Baucau, with thousands of people displaying banners with pictures of jailed guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao, the official Antara news agency reported.

Anti-Indonesia protests have flared up in East Timor in recent days, sparked by comments from the Jakarta-appointed governor Abilio Soares that civil servants would risk being fired if they opposed Indonesia's proposals on granting autonomy but not independence to the territory.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognised by the United Nations which still regards the former colonial ruler Portugal as the administering power.

Portugal and Indonesia held three days of talks at the United Nations last week but came to no agreement on Indonesia's proposals for granting wide-ranging autonomy to East Timor as a final settlement of the dispute over the territory.

The two sides are due to meet again in November.

On October 6, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said the government would not allow a referendum on independence for East Timor.

He said Indonesia's proposal of granting wider autonomy for the territory was the best hope for resolving the dispute.

Copyright 1998 Reuters. © 1998 Cable News Network, Inc.

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