Subject: NZ Foreign Minister Appalled At Timor Bounty Report

Associated Press July 28, 2000

NZ Foreign Min: Appalled At Timor Bounty Report

BANGKOK (AP)--New Zealand's foreign minister said Friday that he was appalled by a report that armed gangs operating from Indonesia are offering a bounty for the lives of Australian and New Zealand peacekeepers in East Timor.

Foreign Minister Phil Goff said that he had no independent confirmation of the report in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

"If it is correct, quite clearly that is totally unacceptable," Goff said.

"I regard it as appalling that a bounty...has been placed for the death of any New Zealand or Australian peacekeeper in East Timor," Goff said on the sidelines of a regional security meeting in Bangkok.

A New Zealand solider in the 8,500-strong U.N. peacekeeping force this week became its first member to be killed in a clash with armed gangs opposed to East Timorese independence.

The Herald quoted unidentified U.N. officers as alleging that a bounty of between 1.5 million and 2 million rupiah ($1=IDR8,913) may have been paid to members of the Laksaur militia believed responsible for the death of 24-year-old Pvt. Leonard Manning.

Manning's body was found with his ears cut off, and the Herald report said they were taken as a bounty trophy.

The U.N. received information on the bounty from militia sources in West Timor, the half of the island ruled by Indonesia, the newspaper said.

Peacekeeping forces led by Australia arrived in East Timor last September to restore order after the territory voted for independence from a quarter-century of brutal rule by Indonesia.

Goff is having talks Saturday with Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab that would focus on tighter control over the border, repatriating refugees and shutting down the camps.


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