Subject: LUSA: Alleged pro-Indonesia militiaman arrested after armed clash

Also: Lusa: Ex-militiamen said infiltrating home for banditry - military source

East Timor: Alleged pro-Indonesia militiaman arrested after armed clash

Dili, Jan. 19 (Lusa) - Police in East Timor detained a man after an exchange of gunfire between security forces and an armed group near the border with Indonesian West Timor, officials said Wednesday.

Six armed men opened fire on a police patrol Tuesday after being spotted by patrolling officers in the district of Ermera, about 50 kms southwest of Dili, a police source told Lusa.

Daniel Mendes, 24, was arrested after the firefight. He told police he was resident in Atambua in West Timor and had entered East Timor Sunday to join five other members of a group who have been in the country since November, 2004.

Residents of the village of Atudara in the district of Cailaco, about 30 kms southwest of Dili, said the group were part of a former pro-Indonesian militia gang that had operated in the area during Timor's bloody breakaway from Jakarta`s rule.

A military source told Lusa that Tuesday's incident at Ermera was the first involving presumed ex-militiamen on Timorese soil for over a year.




East Timor: Ex-militiamen said infiltrating home for banditry - military source

Dili, Jan. 21 (Lusa) - Former pro-Indonesian militiamen are gradually slipping back into East Timor and resorting to banditry, a military source in Dili told Lusa Friday.

The officer said the latest evidence of the infiltration from Indonesia West Timor came from an ex-militiaman captured by police after a firefight Tuesday.

According to the officer, the captive, Daniel Mendes, told interrogators he was part of a six-man gang that had crossed the border planning to assault vehicles and rob villages to survive.

Mendes, a former member of the anti-independence Halilintar militia from the western Ermera area, said he entered East Timor last Sunday to join an armed group that crossed the border in November.

The firefight with the gang and Mendes' subsequent capture by police was the first concrete evidence of activities by former militiamen in East Timor in more than one year.

The military source told Lusa it was likely that other ex- militiamen would seek to return to home areas as bandits, "as a matter of survival, not politics".




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