Subject: AU: Feared E. Timor Militia Rears Head

The Australian

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Feared E Timor Militia Rears Head

Mark Dodd

A ONCE feared pro-Indonesian militia has resurfaced in East Timor, provoking new violence and border tension in the vulnerable Oecussi enclave.

A coded UN cable dated October 12, which has been obtained by The Australian, identifies the "Okto" militia as being responsible for the suspension of tense border talks with Indonesia.

"A PNTL (East Timor police) film footage identified uncontrolled people in the area, including a militia by the name of Okto," said UN East Timor head Sukehiro Hasegawa in a cable to under-secretary-general for peacekeeping Jean Marie Guehenno in New York.

Acting on a request from East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao, Mr Hasegawa said he had travelled to the border village of Passabe to broker talks, which were aimed at "reducing rising tensions caused by incidents of violence in areas of the Oecussi border".

A "detailed briefing" from the East Timorese leadership had earlier raised concerns that Indonesian border troops showed "reluctance" to take preventative measures to stop a number of recent violent incidents, he said.

On October 4, East Timorese police fired warning shots to disperse a mob of Indonesians who had crossed 500m into the enclave near the villages of Nazacusse, Oemeno, Kobe and Suco Bobometo, Mr Hasegawa wrote. Five days later, Indonesian border troops stood by as a mob of machete-wielding militia set fire to crops.

Jakarta claims all West Timor-based anti-independence militias have been disbanded.

The militias were responsible for a wave of violence in the lead-up to and weeks following the historic UN-backed autonomy ballot in 1999.

Stunned by the landslide no vote, the militias laid waste to towns and villages, killing more than 1500 people and driving more than 300,000 over East Timor's western border into Indonesian West Timor.

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