|Subject: SMH/E.Timor: Sightings reported of
Sydney Morning Herald September 30, 2000
Sightings reported of peacekeeper's killer
Mark Dodd, Herald Correspondent in Dili
The Timorese militia leader responsible for shooting dead New Zealand peacekeeper Private Leonard Manning in July has been seen in East Timor, a senior UN military official said yesterday.
Colonel Phil Gibbons, the New Zealand Chief of Operations for the UN Peacekeeping Force, said unconfirmed reports had been received of two sightings, one in East Timor and another in Indonesian West Timor, this month.
"We can't substantiate the sightings but we are pretty sure he is still operating in both East and West Timor," Colonel Gibbons said.
Private Manning was the first UN soldier to die in action in East Timor after his patrol surprised a group of well-armed members of the Laksaur militia on July 24. The soldier, a lead scout, died instantly after being shot in the head. The body was mutilated by his militia killers.
New Zealand investigators say the recently reported death of a militiaman known as Jacobus Bere in West Timor is not the man of the same name they are looking to arrest and question in relation to Private Manning's death.
Captain Mick Tafe, spokesman for United Nations peacekeepers based at Sector West headquarters in Suai, told the Herald that the Indonesian military had records of at least 40 "Jacobus Bere" militiamen, a popular cover name among insurgent groups.
Meanwhile, Australian Brigadier Ken Gillespie, the new UN commander of Sector West, says he has positive information on the whereabouts of Private Manning's Steyr-Aug rifle.
Brigadier Gillespie said the rifle had been seen several times in West Timor and that the peacekeeping force had requested Indonesian authorities to ensure the rifle was included among the weapons being handed in by militia groups.
A four-day voluntary handover of weapons expired on Thursday. The Indonesian military says it will use force to collect weapons still being held by the militias.
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