Subject: LUSA: Alkatiri blames 'militias' for deadly road ambushs

24-02-2003 12:33:00. Notícia nº SIR-4708650

East Timor: Alkatiri blames 'militias' for deadly road ambushs

Dili, Feb. 24 (Lusa) - Unidentified gunmen ambushed two civilian vehicles one hour apart on a road southwest of Dili Monday, killing one person and wounding three others, two seriously, officials said.

The government and the UN mission held an emergency meeting in the capital and dispatched police and UN peacekeeping units to the area of the attacks near the village of Aidabaleten in Bobonaro district.

"It was a deliberate action by (anti-independence) militias" to create instability, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri told Lusa after the meeting.

He underlined "the hit-and-run" nature of the attacks by an estimated three to 10 gunmen, saying there had been no attempt at "robbery or looting".

"The militiamen have have found internal allies, namely elements of Colimau 2000", Alkatiri added, referring to a radical group of local discontents blamed for recent violence southwest of Dili.

The attacks were the first of their kind since armed gangs struck two southwestern villages in roughly the same area Jan. 4, killing six people.

Those raids coincided with reports that former miltiamen were infiltrating in small groups from Indonesian West Timor.

Officials in Dili said the the first ambush late Monday morning targeted a truck without causing victims.

One hour later, the gunmen opened fire on a mini-van carrying passengers, killing a 20-year-old youth and wounding three other people, two seriously.

The commander of East Timor's Defense Force, Brigadier Taur Matan Ruak, told Lusa that such attacks could only be quashed with "better inter-action" between his fledling force and UN police and peacekeepers, who are still primarily responsible for security.

ASP/SAS Lusa

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