Subject: KY: Refugees release gov't officials held in W. Timor

Refugees release gov't officials held in W. Timor

KUPANG, Indonesia Jan. 26 Kyodo - At least four senior Indonesian government and military officials held by a crowd of refugees in Kupang, West Timor, on Thursday were released before midnight, witnesses said Friday.

The refugees, whose number increased to about 2,000 during the standoff, are still occupying the East Nusa Tenggara governor's office and threaten to remain there until their demands are met.

They want compensation for assets left behind in East Timor when they fled to West Timor after the vast majority of East Timorese voted in an August 1999 referendum for independence.

Among those held by the refugees Thursday were East Nusa Tenggara Gov. Piet Tallo, local police chief Brig. Gen. Jacobus Uli, military commander Col. Budi Heryanto and legislative council speaker Daniel Oda Pale.

Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara Province includes West Timor.

''We let them go because we had received a letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Jakarta saying they are ready to send some officials to negotiate with us,'' Paulus Lupitan, who coordinates the refugees, said.

According to Lupitan, the hostage-takers are not East Timorese, but are come from regions such as West Timor, Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi and who had lived in East Timor until the results of the U.N.-backed referendum in 1999 became known.

There are currently about 120,000 refugees from East Timor in West Timor who fled post-referendum violence fomented by pro-Indonesia militias in the once Portuguese colony.

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