|Subject: KY: UN arrests suspected militia
after E. Timor grenade attack
U.N. arrests suspected militia after E. Timor grenade attack
06/23/2000 Kyodo News
By Tim Johnson
DILI, E. Timor , June 23 --
U.N. peacekeepers in East Timor have arrested two suspected anti-independence militiamen and confiscated rifles and grenades in the wake of a grenade attack on peacekeepers Wednesday, a U.N. peacekeeping force (PKF) spokesman said Friday.
Col. Brynjar Nymo told a press conference Australian peacekeepers manning a temporary checkpoint set up just south of the town of Batugade, near the border with Indonesia's West Timor , found the weapons during a search of a vehicle Thursday afternoon.
Two automatic rifles, an M-16 and an SKS, which are common weapons throughout the area, and two hand grenades, along with ammunition, were found concealed in the jeep-type vehicle, which was being used as a local bus.
More ammunition was found in the bags of two of the vehicle's nine passengers, bringing the amount of ammunition to between 350 and 400 rounds.
Nymo said seven of the passengers were released after being deemed innocent locals.
During questioning, the two suspected militiamen initially claimed to be members of the Falintil former guerrilla group that resisted Indonesia's occupation of East Timor for 24 years.
But while they carried Falintil leave passes, papers issued when the former guerrillas leave their sole cantonment at Aileau, in the mountains south of Dili, they were unable to produce Falintil ID cards.
"Under continued questioning, their statements grew increasingly self-contradictory, and we do have reason to believe that these may be militia individuals," Nymo said.
The spokesman said it has yet to be determined if the two suspected militiamen were linked to Wednesday's attack on the peacekeeping force when a small group of suspected militiamen fired upon and threw six grenades at a PKF position.
No injuries were sustained on either side.
He said the confiscated rifles have been sent to Australia to check ballistics to see if a link can be established with Wednesday's attack.
Since the Aug. 30 vote for independence, there have been numerous incidents on the borders between West and East Timor involving the use of military weapons fired at international troops, of which there are 8,029 from 23 countries, and East Timorese civilians.
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