Subject: SMH: US warns Jakarta: stop sniping at East Timor

Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday, August 1, 2000

US warns Jakarta: stop sniping at East Timor By MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent in Dili

The United States Ambassador to Indonesia has condemned Jakarta's "lamentable and inexcusable" failure to disarm militias operating from West Timor.

Mr Robert Gelbard said the Indonesian Government should disband the militias, transfer two army battalions responsible for violence in refugee camps, and honour its promise to respect East Timor's territorial integrity.

His call came in an interview with the Herald during a visit to Dili and follows warnings from senior United Nations commanders in Dili that the next two months will see whether well-armed pro-Jakarta militias, backed by rogue elements of the Indonesian Army, will launch a full-scale insurgency.

The Australian commander of UN border forces, Brigadier Duncan Lewis, expects more attacks by insurgents operating from refugee camps in Indonesian West Timor.

Mr Gelbard said: "What is particularly worrisome is that on June 21 when there were attacks against Australian soldiers and now with the tragic killing of [New Zealand Private Leonard Manning] we have seen increasingly well planned, well organised attacks with sophisticated automatic weapons.

"What that demonstrates to my Government is that the Indonesian Government is still not prepared to take control of the situation. That is something Indonesia must do if it is to achieve the necessary long-term support for its own situation."

Mr Gelbard called for the immediate transfer of Indonesian Army battalions 744 and 745, saying they were responsible for much of the insecurity along the border and intimidation and violence in the refugee camps.

"There are still clearly elements within TNI [Indonesian military] that are continuing to support the militias," he said. "It is lamentable and inexcusable that they do not take measures to enforce the territorial integrity and sovereignty of East Timor, since they have taken insufficient action to disarm and disband the militias."

As the international condemnation grew, Indonesia's state-run Antara news agency reported that President Wahid had promised to close the refugee camps used by the militiamen to stage incursions into East Timor.

At the same time, the UN chief in East Timor, Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, said arrest warrants had been issued for the gang accused of killing Private Manning and now thought to be hiding in West Timor.


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